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Rocket Lab's subsequent launch will put 30 satellites into orbit – and a 3D-printed gnome by Gabe Newell

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Rocket Labs The next mission will bring dozens of satellites into orbit using the launch company's "Space Tug" kick stage and a 3D-printed garden gnome by Gabe Newell of Valve Software. The latter is a test of a new manufacturing technique, but also a philanthropic endeavor of the legend of the gaming industry.

The as yet undisclosed launch, where Rocket Lab cheekily names all missions, is expected to take place no earlier than November 15th (or November 16th at the New Zealand launch location) press release.

A total of 30 satellites are deployed using Rocket Lab's Kick Stage delivery platform, which, like other “space tugs”, detaches itself from the second stage once a certain preliminary orbit is reached, and then delivers its payloads each on their own trajectory. These are the most individual satellites, each captured by Rocket Lab at once.

Twenty-four of these are from Swarm Technologies. tiny SpaceBEEs, the sandwich-sized communications satellites that operate a low-cost, low-bandwidth, global network for Internet of Things devices.

The most unusual payload, however, is certainly “Gnome Chompski”, whose passage was paid for by Valve President Newell: a 3D-printed figure that remains attached to the kick stage until re-entry. The character, a recreation of an item from the popular Half-Life series of PC games, was made by Weta Workshop, the effects studio behind Lord of the Rings and many other films. It is both a test of a potentially useful new component printing technology and "a tribute to the innovation and creativity of gamers worldwide".

More importantly, Newell will donate a dollar to Starship Children's Hospital for every viewer of the launch. So you should definitely be prepared for this. (I'm waiting to find out more from Newell if possible.)

The launch will also provide satellites for TriSept, Unseenlabs and the Auckland Space Institute – the final one will be New Zealand's first student-built spacecraft.

Rocket Lab has worked hard to make its launch platform an all-in-one system so that potential customers don't have to search for different services or components. Ideally, according to the company's CEO, everyone should be able to get to the company with the company's payload and the rest will be taken care of.

Credit: Missile laboratory

"Small satellite operators shouldn't have to compromise on orbit when flying on ridesharing. We're delighted to be able to provide tailored access to space for 30 satellites on this mission." That is why we designed the Kick Stage to enable custom orbits for each mission and avoid the added complexity, time and cost of developing your own spacecraft propulsion system or using a third-party spacecraft, "Beck said in the press release.

Rocket Lab recently launched its own First Light satellite to show that reaching orbit isn't as painful as Beck put it back then.

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Katherine Clark