Rocket Lab signs up new customer as launch window gets closer

Rocket Lab signs up new customer as launch window gets closer

Rocket Lab plans to test its Electron vehicle during a weather-dependent launch window that falls between May 22 and June 2, and today announced it had signed a new customer contract with Spaceflight, a launch services and mission management provider.

It is especially suited to those serving difficult-to-come-by launch destinations, such as mid-inclination orbits for remote sensing satellites.

Rocket Lab's top priority during the test launch is public safety, so there are safety zones in place and no access will be permitted to Onenui Station.

Dedicated rideshare for small satellites is an alternative where several payloads share the same launch to a specific destination.

As an entirely carbon-composite vehicle, created to carry payloads of 225kg to an elliptical orbit and up to 150kg to a nominal 500km sun-synchronous low-earth orbit, the Electron is ideal for dedicated rideshare missions.

According to Curt Blake, the President of Spaceflight's launch business, there are numerous rideshare launches each year to Sun Synchronous Orbit; however, getting to 45 to 60 degrees is hard to find and can cost the equivalent of buying an entire rocket.

Spaceflight works with all launch vehicle providers with capabilities to launch everything from a CubeSat to a two-tonne micro-satellite. "We are thrilled to be working with Rocket Lab to enable our customers' remote sensing missions that require high revisit time over North America, Europe, and the Middle East".

Spaceflight has launched more than 100 satellites to date from a variety of launch vehicles including PSLV, Dnepr, Antares, Cygnus, Soyuz and others.

The companies have not yet announced a date for the Electron dedicated rideshare mission. "We look forward to expanding this relationship and operational manifest with Spaceflight as we increase our market reach and remove the barriers to commercial space".

A Nasa spokeswoman said the results of the launch would be of interest in the US. For more information, visit http://www.spaceflight.com. Unlike SpaceX, Rocket Lab's rockets are specifically geared towards small satellite payloads, with a carbon composite rocket created to carry up to 225kg payloads for elliptical orbit, and 150kg with a 500km sun synchronous low earth orbit (LEO). Rocket Lab, which is led by Peter Beck, started developing its rockets in 2006. In addition to New Zealand's first orbital launch site located on the Māhia Peninsula, the company has operations in both Los Angeles and Auckland.