Rocket Lab, the U.S.-headquartered small satellite launch provider that launches its rockets from New Zealand, has just announced its partnership with satellite rideshare and mission management provider Spaceflight for three satellite launches through 2018 and into 2019.
The first mission, scheduled for the end of 2018, will launch a BlackSky Earth observation microsatellite along with several rideshare customers. The second launch will be a commercial rideshare mission in early 2019. Rocket Lab and Spaceflight have also signed a letter of agreement, which is expected to be completed soon, for a third mission to launch a satellite built by Canon Electronics in late 2019.
The three-launch agreement will be Spaceflight’s first missions aboard Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle. These new launch manifests are the latest in a demanding launch schedule that will see Rocket Lab launch monthly by the end of 2018, increasing to launches every two weeks in 2019.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Spaceflight onto our growing launch manifest,” said Rocket Lab founder and Chief Executive Officer, Peter Beck (who was interviewed by SpaceWatch.Global on 10 June 2018). “Rapid and repeatable access to space is crucial for the development of vital infrastructure on orbit, and Rocket Lab is delivering it now. In partnering with Spaceflight, Rocket Lab is offering the long-underserved SmallSat market streamlined launches that enable innovative missions, like those of Canon Electronics and BlackSky.”
One of the Electron missions will launch an Earth observation satellite for Canon Electronics. This spacecraft follows on from Canon Electronics’ experimental CE-SAT-I that was launched in 2017.
“This launch is very critical for Canon Electronics as we are launching a satellite built with all components made by Canon Electronics,” said Dr. Nobutada Sako, group executive, Satellite Systems Lab, Canon Electronics Inc. “Just as Canon provides world premium technologies, sales, and services, we believe Spaceflight and Rocket Lab offer the same premium services to their clients and look forward to a long-term partnership with them.”
Melissa Wuerl, Spaceflight’s vice-president of business development, said, “We are pleased to offer first-class integration services and dedicated launches for our customers on the Electron rocket.”
All three missions will lift off from the Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Māhia Peninsula in New Zealand and deploy the spacecraft into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Spaceflight has procured the launch capacity on behalf of its customers and will provide mission campaign integration services. Rocket Lab will assist with the integration of the satellites to the Electron launch vehicle before launch. All payloads launched by Rocket Lab from New Zealand are subject to approval by the New Zealand Government.