Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) has signed a deal to launch an Earth Observation (EO) satellite on Electron for the Institute for Q-shu Pioneers of Space, Inc. (iQPS), a Japan-based, Earth imaging company.
iQPS was originally manifested on another launch vehicle — iQPS has now selected Rocket Lab to launch QPS-SAR-5 on a dedicated Electron mission to expedite the deployment.
The launch is scheduled for lift-off in September 2023 and will carry iQPS’s QPS-SAR-5 satellite — named TSUKUYOMI-I — into orbit on a dedicated Electron mission from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand. The mission has been named “The Moon God Awakens” in acknowledgement of Tsukuyomi, the Japanese God of the Moon.
QPS-SAR-5 is a synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite that will join a constellation after QPS-SAR-6 already on-orbit. iQPS’s satellites are small, high-performance SAR satellites that use a lightweight, large, stowable antenna to collect high resolution images of Earth, even through clouds and adverse weather conditions. Ultimately, the iQPS constellation is planned to have 36 satellites capable of monitoring specific fixed points on Earth every 10 minutes.
In addition to being launched by Electron, the QPS-SAR-5 satellite will use Rocket Lab’s Mark II Motorized Lightband (MLB) as its separation system, demonstrating the Company’s vertically integrated, space systems strategy.
“This is exactly the kind of mission Electron was designed for and has delivered on time and time again – a customer urgently seeking dedicated launch to a unique orbit on a rapid timeline. We’re delighted to deliver that capability to our new partners at iQPS and keep their mission on schedule. iQPS’ SAR technology can play a vital role in disaster prevention, marine monitoring, infrastructure management, agriculture, and more. The sooner their spacecraft is in orbit, the faster those capabilities can be delivered, so we’re grateful for the opportunity to make iQPS’ mission possible with a dependable launch service.” — Peter Beck, Founder and CEO, Rocket Lab
“We are very pleased to announce the new launch plan for QPS-SAR-5 following the successful QPS-SAR-6 launch in June, despite the delay due to status changes since our announcement of contract for QPS-SAR-5 in May last year. We highly appreciate Rocket Lab and our team for all their efforts in arranging this new launch contract as it is very meaningful for us to quickly deploy the satellites into orbit and build a 36-QPS-SAR constellation that will enable near real-time observation almost anywhere in the world, which we are aiming for. We believe that this collaboration with Rocket Lab for QPS-SAR-5 will evolve our SAR image data services and expand our business.” — Dr. Shunsuke Onishi, CEO, iQPS