in ,

Latest launch-contract win suggests Rocket Lab is now considered highly reliable, Ars Technica

Latest launch-contract win suggests Rocket Lab is now considered highly reliable, Ars Technica

      Big day for little lift –


“They come to us with their hair on fire.”


       Apr 21, (9:) (pm UTC )   


“We are very pleased to work with Rocket Lab, a pioneer in rocket ventures,” the founder and chief executive of Synspective, Motoyuki Arai, said in a news release . “We are also grateful for their flexibility in accepting our requests on the satellite’s orbit and launch period.”

This was all standard enough. The 500 kg StriX-α satellite is near the top end of Electron’s capability, but the booster can loft that much mass to Sun-synchronous orbit. To date, the heaviest payload launched by Electron is a (kg satellite for the Air Force, into a) km orbit last year.

What Tuesday’s announcement did not included was the fact that the Japanese company shuffled this launch from a Vega rocket onto Electron. The Vega rocket, which had its first failure in 15 launches last July, has yet to return to flight. The spaceport it launches from in French Guiana remains closed due to the coronavirus.

Synspective and Arianespace announced a contract to launch StriX-α as a rideshare mission on the European company Vega vehicle only one year ago, and as part of that deal, they signed a “Strategic Partnership Agreement” to study a future cooperation.

That was significant, because Synspective has raised more than $ 185 million since forming at the beginning of . Eventually, it plans to build out a constellation of 47 satellites to provide global coverage of the planet, with the ability to use synthetic-aperture radar to provide continuous images through clouds and at nighttime. Synspective aims to launch Six satellites by to provide coverage of Asia. Now, Rocket Lab, instead of Arianespace, may be in a position to pick up this launch business.

The StriX-α satellite is a prototype vehicle to test technologies for the constellation, heavier than the planned kg mass of the final satellite configuration. Launching 25 of these will provide a nice bundle of contracts to some smallsat launch company, which is why Synspective’s move to Rocket Lab is intriguing.

The cost for a dedicated launch on Electron starts at $ 7.5 million. It is not known how much Syspective paid for a rideshare on the Vega rocket, which has a lift capacity of about 1.4 metric tons to Sun-synchronous orbit and costs $ million according to a US government report


While he declined to say what pressures had driven Synspective from the Vega rocket, Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck told Ars the company had experienced this before. “This is not uncommon for us,” said Beck. “We have several different kinds of customers. Sometimes they have booked on a rideshare mission and it slips out, or they get kicked off, and they come to us with their hair on fire. Or maybe they’ve booked a ride on a fantasy rocket and realize that it’s not going to fly any time soon. Other customers really understand the value of a dedicated launch. “

Electron may cost a little more than a rideshare mission, but Rocket Lab can provide a valuable service with a rocket that is ready to go now, and can deliver a satellite into a precise orbit. “You wouldn’t expect to pay the price of a bus ticket for an Uber,” Beck said. In this case, Synspective certainly valued getting their demo satellite into orbit as soon as possible.


What do you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

Build a working game of Tetris in Conway's Game of Life, Hacker News

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is keeping the Android tablet dream alive, Ars Technica

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is keeping the Android tablet dream alive, Ars Technica