Thursday, May 18, 2017

Spaceflight Purchases Electron Rocket from Rocket Lab

The Electron at Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1. Photo: Rocket Lab.

Spaceflight, the company reinventing the model for launching small satellites into space, announced on Wednesday the purchase of a Rocket Lab Electron rocket to increase the frequency of its dedicated rideshare missions.

The Electron is an ideal launch vehicle for dedicated and rideshare missions, especially those serving difficult-to-come-by launch destinations such as mid-inclination orbits for remote sensing satellites. In late 2015, Spaceflight began its dedicated rideshare launch service with the purchase of a SpaceX Falcon 9 and now expands the rocket partnership to Rocket Lab with the Electron.

Dedicated rideshare for smallsats is a new launch alternative that blends cost-effective rideshare pricing (where several payloads share the same launch to a specific destination) with first-class service, typically associated with buying a private rocket. Spaceflight provides multiple launch options to ensure organizations can access space when they need to, at a much lower cost than buying their own launch vehicle.

“There are numerous rideshare launches each year to Sun Synchronous Orbit, but getting to 45 to 60 degrees is hard to find, and can cost the equivalent of buying an entire rocket,” said Curt Blake, President of Spaceflight’s launch business. “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.”

Peter Beck, Rocket Lab CEO added, “The Electron is an entirely carbon-composite vehicle that is designed to carry payloads of 225kg to an elliptical orbit and up to 150kg to a nominal 500km sun synchronous low earth orbit. 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.”

Spaceflight has launched more than 100 satellites to date from a variety of launch vehicles including PSLV, Dnepr, Antares, Cygnus, Soyuz and others. The frequency of satellite launches, combined with Spaceflight’s cross-section of customers and variety of mission-applications, is a strong indicator of the growing capabilities of small satellites and the need for more timely and cost-effective access to space.

The companies have not yet announced a date for the Electron dedicated rideshare mission. 

Credit: spaceflight.com

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