Rocket Lab, a US orbital launch provider for the small satellite industry, has today announced a partnership with satellite rideshare and mission management provider, Spaceflight, for three orbital launches across 2018/19.
The first mission, scheduled for the end of 2018, will launch a BlackSky microsat 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 finalized in the next few weeks, for a third mission to fly a Canon spacecraft in late 2019.
The three-launch deal cements Spaceflight’s first missions aboard the Electron launch vehicle. The missions join a busy manifest that will see Rocket Lab launch monthly by the end of 2018, scaling to a launch every two weeks in 2019.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Spaceflight onto our growing launch manifest,” says Rocket Lab founder and Chief Executive, Peter Beck. “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 loft an Earth observation satellite for Canon Electronics. This spacecraft follows on from Canon Electronics’ experimental CE-SAT-I which 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, says adding the Electron to Spaceflight’s portfolio of small launch vehicles fulfils a need for customers to access space with shorter lead times. “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. Spaceflight has procured the launch capacity on behalf of its customers and will provide mission campaign integration services. Rocket Lab will assist with satellite to launch vehicle integration and will provide the launch service to orbit using the Electron. All payloads launched by Rocket Lab from New Zealand are subject to approval by the New Zealand Government.