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Rocket Lab deploys OHBB secret satellite for communications

During the first electron mission of 2021, Rocket Lab successfully deployed a communications satellite for the German corporation OHB Group on January 20. At 2:26 a.m. Eastern, the Electron took off from the firm’s Launch Complex 1 situated in Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand, after a short delay due to the gusty winds. Four days ago, Rocket Lab scrubbed the initial launch effort for the “Another One Leaves the Crust” experiment due to “strange data” from the sensor. The lone satellite on the flight, GMS-T, was released by Electron seventy minutes after the liftoff. “Excellent orbit launched the payload. Hi, 2021!” Tweeted Rocket Lab’s chief executive officer, Peter Beck. 

Since the Rocket Lab revealed the scheduled launch on January 5, the payload for this flight has been cloaked in secrecy. OHB did not reveal the satellite’s identity until after the liftoff, as well as the project press kit never included the mass or orbital altitude of the satellite, simply saying that it was heading into orbit at a 90-degree angle. In its statement of the forthcoming deployment, Rocket Lab stated that payloads “would be a singular microsatellite communication which will allow precise frequencies to facilitate future orbital services.” The launch was procured last August by OHB, which designed the spacecraft. Rocket Lab, who promised to ship the payload within a period of six months, mentioned “an unprecedented delivery time” at the time.

A logo with an outline of the satellite as well as the words “BIU GMS-T” accompanied with an image of the payload fairing of the rocket. Analysts hypothesized that the identity of the satellite was GMS-T, with the BIU corresponding to “put into use,” a phrase given by the International Telecommunication Union as well as national regulators for the first use of the spectrum in satellite communications and compatible with the reported mission so as to “enable precise frequencies” for the upcoming programs.

GMS Zhaopin, a Chinese corporation preparing a satellite constellation, might just be the eventual customer for this satellite. It was connected to a German firm, KLEO Connect, which revealed plans to offer Internet of Things services for the constellation. OHB identified GMS-T as a ’50 kg class’ satellite put in the orbit 1,200 km high in a report after the deployment. It identified GMS-T as the “first prototype spaceship to utilize microwave broadband radio communication connections for a proposed modern multi-hundred telecommunication satellite constellation in the LEO.” It reported that it was deployed to fulfill the specifications of ITU bring-into-use. The firm, however, did not reveal the ultimate client of the GMS-T.

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