RocketLab makes it pay
Rocket Lab will fly payloads for satellites on its next test flight.
The company said its Electron orbital launch vehicle would carry two Earth-imaging Dove satellites for satellite imagery firm Planet and two Lemur-2 satellites from satellite data firm Spire for weather mapping and ship traffic tracking.
It will be the second of three flights in Rocket Lab’s Electron test programme, launched from the Ma¯hia Peninsula.
Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck said it was a significant milestone for the Electron programme, which would gather crucial data and test systems for the deployment stage of a mission.
‘‘We’re thrilled with Electron’s performance in the first test flight and now we’re eager to test the next crucial step – payload deployment,’’ Beck said.
‘‘No major changes to the launch vehicle hardware have been required, the third-party error that meant we didn’t make orbit has been corrected and we’re focusing on the six Electron vehicles in production right now.
‘‘While we’re still very much operating in a test phase and can likely expect a few scrubs during the second test flight attempt, we’re incredibly excited about carrying Planet and Spire payloads on Electron,’’ he said.
‘‘The data these companies gather has an increasingly significant role to play in how we understand our planet and better manage it.’’
The Electron vehicle is expected to be trucked to the Ma¯hia Peninsula launch complex this month.
Rocket Lab’s launch site on the Ma¯hia Peninsula and, inset, Electron’s first test launch.