Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) is preparing to launch two dedicated missions in March from the Company’s launch sites in the United States and New Zealand — within days of each other.
One Electron rocket is ready and in position at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand to deploy satellites for Spaceflight Inc. customer BlackSky (NYSE: BKSY), a real-time, geospatial intelligence company.
A second rocket is simultaneously undergoing final launch preparations at Launch Complex 2 in Virginia to deploy satellites for American space tech company Capella Space, a provider of commercial Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery.
Both launches are scheduled to occur in March with the launch windows to be finalized based on individual customer and range requirements; however, both missions are expected to launch within days of one another. Capella Space’s two satellites have been integrated to Electron at Launch Complex 2 and are ready for launch, while BlackSky’s two satellites are undergoing final check outs before integration to Electron at Launch Complex 1.
Rocket Lab has also completed a Wet Dress Rehearsal at Launch Complex 2 and the mission is now awaiting range clearances from NASA and the FAA to proceed with launch. Meanwhile, Launch Complex 1’s Wet Dress Rehearsal is scheduled to take place in the coming days.
Running simultaneous launch campaigns across two continents once again demonstrates Rocket Lab’s ability to deliver responsive and flexible launch solutions to the small satellite market. The upcoming missions are expected to best Rocket Lab’s previous launch turnaround record set at Launch Complex 1 in 2022 when Rocket Lab launched the CAPSTONE mission to the Moon for NASA, followed by a dedicated mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) 15 days later.
Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck, said, “The ability to run simultaneous launch campaigns and deliver a rapid launch cadence is exactly what Electron and our launch sites were built for. We’re dedicated to serving the responsive space needs of our customers across commercial and government space. It’s not a capability we’re promising in the future, it’s a reality that we’re delivering on right now.”
About the Capella Space Launch
Mission Name: Stronger Together
Payload: Two SAR satellites
Launch Site: Launch Complex 1, Wallops Island, Virginia, USA
Rocket Lab will deliver to orbit two SAR satellites for San Francisco-based Capella Space. Capella provides the best quality, high resolution SAR imagery to customers globally for a wide range of government and commercial applications. The “Stronger Together” mission carrying Capella Space’s two 100-kg class satellites will expand Capella’s existing SAR constellation, increasing imaging capacity to meet growing customer demand.
Capella Space delivers the highest quality, highest resolution SAR imagery commercially available with the fastest order-to-delivery time, empowering organizations across the public and private sector to make informed, accurate decisions. Its satellite imaging technology can penetrate all weather conditions and capture clear imagery 24-7, day and night, delivering accurate and timely data about what is happening across the Earth at any given moment. With this latest launch into low Earth orbit, Capella Space will expand its market-leading SAR satellite constellation in response to increased customer demand for SAR data.
Rocket Lab has delivered a Capella satellite to space previously on the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Optical” mission in August 2020. Supporting Rocket Lab’s vertical integration strategy, Rocket Lab will also supply Capella Space with two of the Company’s own Motorized Lightbands; separation systems designed to separate the Capella satellites from Electron once in orbit.
About the BlackSky Launch
Mission Name: The Beat Goes On
Payload: Two Earth-imaging satellites
Launch Site: Launch Complex 1, Mahia, New Zealand
Rocket Lab will deliver to orbit two Earth-imaging satellites for BlackSky through global launch services provider Spaceflight, Inc. “The Beat Goes On” mission will deliver BlackSky’s high-resolution, Gen-2 satellites to LEO, adding capacity to the company’s real-time geospatial intelligence and monitoring capabilities. BlackSky delivers on-demand, high-frequency imagery, monitoring, and analytics of the most critical and strategic locations, economic assets, and events in the world.
“The Beat Goes On” is the final mission of a multi-launch agreement with launch services provider, Spaceflight, Inc., who managed the integration and launch services for BlackSky. As part of the agreement, Blacksky satellites have been launched on five previous Electron missions since 2021. Rocket Lab also delivered two BlackSky satellites to orbit prior to 2021, bringing the total number of BlackSky satellites deployed to orbit by Electron to nine.
Note: Rocket Lab is also expecting to conduct a marine recovery operation for this mission to return the Electron first stage to its manufacturing facilities post launch.
Original news posting…
Scheduled for launch starting in the second half of 2023, each Electron mission will deploy a single Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Earth-imaging, Acadia satellite, a new generation satellite designed, manufactured, and operated by Capella Space, to LEO. These missions, scheduled to launch in quick succession, will follow an existing launch on the Rocket Lab manifest for Capella Space, the “Stronger Together” mission that is scheduled to lift off from Launch Complex 2 in Wallops, Virginia, in March of 2023. Capella Space is a returning customer to Electron, with Rocket Lab having launched a dedicated mission for the SAR company in August of 2020.
The four, newly-signed missions are planned to lift-off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand — however, Rocket Lab has provided Capella Space with the flexibility to move any of the missions to Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2 in Wallops, Virginia, if required as the mission campaigns progress in order to meet optimum customer and mission requirements.
By operating three orbital launch pads across two continents, Rocket Lab’s responsive and flexible launch solution enables assured access to orbit for Capella Space to quickly and reliably increase their constellation’s capacity and orbital diversity to meet growing demands for its SAR imagery and analysis.
In addition to providing the launch service, each Capella Space mission will feature separation systems produced by Rocket Lab in line with the Company’s vertical integration strategy.
Rocket Lab CEO and founder, Peter Beck, said, “We delivered mission success for Capella in our first mission for them in 2020 and now we’re thrilled they’ve entrusted us with a further five missions to help expand their growing SAR constellation. We’re proud to provide the team at Capella with a reliable ride to space, combined with the flexibility of two launch sites in different hemispheres to enable flexibility and responsiveness.”
Capella Space CEO and founder, Payam Banazadeh, said, “We are experiencing increased market demand for our highest-quality SAR data, and this announcement underscores Capella’s strong commitment to our global customers across the defence and intelligence and commercial markets. We are excited for the multiple launches with Rocket Lab, including the introduction of our new generation Acadia satellite technology, to further enhance our market-leading capabilities of high-frequency, best quality SAR imagery with the fastest order-to-delivery speeds of any commercial SAR provider.”