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Rocket Lab To Loft Astro Digital Payload From New Zealand Launch Site

A Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle carrying three NASA ELaNa CubeSats clears its launchpad in New Zealand. Photograph courtesy of Rocket Lab.

Rocket Lab, the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has announced Astro Digital as the customer for Rocket Lab’s ninth Electron mission, and fifth mission of 2019.

The dedicated mission is scheduled to take place during a 14-day launch window opening on 15 October 2019 NZDT (14 October UTC). The mission will lift-off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. Encapsulated in Electron’s fairing will be a single spacecraft for Astro Digital, a California-based satellite manufacturer and operator.

The mission is named ‘As The Crow Flies’ in a nod to Astro Digital’s Corvus Platform, which provides flexible and cost-effective solutions across a wide range of applications and mission profiles on bus variants ranging from 6U and 16U CubeSats to ESPA Class. Corvus is also a widely-distributed genus of birds which includes crows.

Rocket Lab’s Senior Vice President – Global Launch Services, Lars Hoffman, says the mission is a perfect example of the tailored, responsive and precise launch service sought by an increasing number of small satellite operators.

“We are honored Astro Digital has selected Rocket Lab as the launch provider for their dedicated mission. The Electron launch vehicle, with its unique Kick Stage, is perfectly positioned to provide the kind of tailored, rapid and responsive access to space that rideshare models simply can’t deliver,” Mr. Hoffman says.

“With Electron and our own launch sites, Rocket Lab is uniquely placed to give small satellite operators complete control over their own launch schedule and orbital requirements.”

‘As The Crow Flies’ has been moved forward in Rocket Lab’s 2019 launch manifest, after a customer originally slated for launch in the coming weeks requested a later launch date. By manufacturing standard Electron launch vehicles, rather than rockets tailored to specific missions, Rocket Lab can facilitate rapid manifest changes that support the responsive needs of small satellite operators. Rocket Lab augments this flexibility by operating the world’s only private orbital launch range, providing small satellite customers with unmatched launch schedule control.

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