Rocket Lab is Designing a Twin Spacecraft to go to Mars

Caitlin Cook
Caitlin Cook is an editorial intern at dot.LA, currently earning her master's degree in mass communication from California State University, Northridge. A devoted multimedia journalist with an interest in both tech and entertainment, Cook also works as a reporter and production assistant for MUSE TV. She got her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Filmmaking from University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
Rocket Lab is Designing a Twin Spacecraft to go to Mars
Photo by Business Wire

Long Beach-based aerospace manufacturer Rocket Lab landed a contract with NASA to design a twin Photon spacecraft for a Mars mission that will begin in 2024.

NASA's choice to employ Rocket Lab for this mission comes as another win for Los Angeles, which has one of the most distinguished aerospace industries in the world. Los Angeles is also home to SpaceX and an arm for the U.S. Space Force.

The mission, called ESCAPADE (Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers), will send the twin spacecraft (nicknamed Blue and Gold) to orbit Mars to better understand the planet's magnetosphere. Specifically, researchers are interested in gathering information about changes in Mars' climate over time by studying the effects of solar wind on the planet's atmosphere.

The spacecraft's travel to Mars is expected to take 11 months. Once the spacecraft has entered Mars' orbit, the mission is slated to last one year.

This is just one of many efforts in the aerospace industry to learn more about Mars. The possibility of life once existing on the planet and the potential for human colonization both make Mars an attractive area of study.

ESCAPADE, led by Rob Lillis at the University of California, Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory, was chosen back in 2019 to be a part of NASA's SIMPLEx program, which focuses on the development of small satellites.

Part of SIMPLEx's goal is to lower the cost and boost accessibility of interplanetary research, since small satellites come at a low cost to develop. It is currently unclear exactly how much ESCAPADE will cost.

Rocket Lab was founded by engineer Peter Beck in 2006 in Auckland, New Zealand and established its Long Beach headquarters in 2013. They are known for having developed several rockets for orbital flight, including Electron, which suffered its third failed launch last month.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.


Energy Shares Gears Up To Bring Equity Crowdfunding to Retail Investors

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Energy Shares Gears Up To Bring Equity Crowdfunding to Retail Investors
Photo by Red Zeppelin on Unsplash

The Inflation Reduction Act contains almost $400 billion in funding for clean energy initiatives. There’s $250 billion for energy projects. $23 billion for transportation and EVs. $46 billion for environment. $21 billion for agriculture, and so on. With so much cash flowing into the sector, the possibilities for investment and growth are gigantic.

These investment opportunities, however, have typically been inaccessible for everyday retail investors until much later in a company’s development–after an IPO, usually. Meaning that the best returns are likely to be captured by banks and other institutions who have the capital and financing to invest large sums of money earlier in the process.

That’s where Pasadena-based Energy Shares comes in. The company wants to help democratize access to these investment opportunities and simultaneously give early-stage utility-scale energy projects another revenue stream.

Read moreShow less

How These Ukranian Entrepreneurs Relocated Their Startups to LA and Found Success

Aisha Counts
Aisha Counts is a business reporter covering the technology industry. She has written extensively about tech giants, emerging technologies, startups and venture capital. Before becoming a journalist she spent several years as a management consultant at Ernst & Young.
How These Ukranian Entrepreneurs Relocated Their Startups to LA and Found Success
Joey Mota

Fleeing war and chasing new opportunities, more than a dozen Ukrainian entrepreneurs have landed in Los Angeles, finding an unexpected community in the city of dreams. These entrepreneurs have started companies that are collectively worth more than $300 million, in industries ranging from electric vehicle charging stations to audience monetization platforms to social networks.

Dot.LA spent an evening with this group of Ukrainian citizens, learning what it was like to build startups in Ukraine, to cope with the unimaginable fear of fleeing war, and to garner the resilience to rebuild.

Read moreShow less