Small satellites launch service provider Rocket Lab has announced the successful deployment of 30 small satellites to orbit in a single mission.

Named as ‘Return to Sender’, the 16th Electron mission was launched from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula on 20 November.

The satellites belong to various customers, including TriSept, Swam Technologies, Unseenlabs, and the Auckland Programme for Space Systems at The University of Auckland.

The launch comes two months after Rocket Lab secured approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to resume launches of Electron.

In addition to the launch, Rocket Lab successfully recovered the booster of its Electron launch vehicle for the first time after splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

The recovery is a huge achievement for the company as it aims to make Electron a reusable rocket. This would enable the launch frequency of satellites to increase at reduced costs.

Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said: “What the team achieved today in recovering Electron’s first stage is no mean feat.

“It took a monumental effort from many teams across Rocket Lab, and it’s exciting to see that work pay off in a major step towards making Electron a reusable rocket.

“It’s a privilege to once again provide access to orbit for our returning customers Unseenlabs, Swarm Technologies, and TriSept, and to deploy a satellite for the University of Auckland for the very first time.

“Thank you to our incredible customers, and to the tireless team behind Electron who delivered mission success once again.”

The latest launch takes Rocket Lab’s total satellites launched to 95 so far. It also includes the APSS-1 satellite, New Zealand’s first student-built payload deployed to orbit.