Rocket Lab to Launch Space Situational Awareness Mission for
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This news is classified in: Aerospace Communications Space

Feb 8, 2024

Rocket Lab to Launch Space Situational Awareness Mission for Spire and NorthStar

  • Rocket Lab will also attempt to recover Electron's first stage from the mission in next step for reusability.

Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, today announced it has set the launch window for its first mission of 2024.

The ‘Four of a Kind’ mission is scheduled to launch no earlier than January 18 between 19:15-20:00 NZT (January 18 between 06:15-07:00 UTC) from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand. The mission will deploy four Space Situational Awareness (SSA) satellites for Spire Global, Inc’s (Spire) customer NorthStar Earth & Space (NorthStar).  NorthStar´s satellites, built and operated by Spire, will be the first to simultaneously monitor all near-Earth orbits from space, delivering a radically enhanced level of SSA services to the global satellite community, with timely and precise information for space object detection, tracking, orbit determination, collision avoidance, navigation, and proximity alerts.

As a secondary mission, Rocket Lab will be attempting to splash down and retrieve Electron’s first stage as part of the Company’s plan to evolve Electron into a reusable rocket. After launch and stage separation, Electron’s first stage will return to Earth under a parachute and splash down in the Pacific Ocean several hundred kilometers down range from Launch Complex 1. Rocket Lab’s recovery vessel will extract the stage from the water for transportation back to Rocket Lab’s production complex where it will undergo detailed analysis. Rocket Lab is not launching any pre-flown engines as part of this mission.

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“With each recovery mission we iterate toward Electron reusability and with recent launches we’ve made significant leaps forward with more successful splashdowns, recoveries and the first launch of a pre-flown Rutherford engine,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “We’re looking forward to putting advanced heat-shielding and waterproofing systems to the test on this mission as one of the final steps before re-flying an entire first stage. To launch an advanced mission like this with Spire as a mission partner is a real privilege, as they were on our very first orbital mission in 2018. To be partnered up again and both still pushing boundaries with new technology and capabilities all these years later is a great full circle moment.”

Spire Global co-founder and CEO, Peter Platzer, says: "As we approach the launch of NorthStar's SSA satellites, this moment not only signifies a technological milestone but also underscores the meticulous collaboration that has shaped this mission. Through our joint efforts with Rocket Lab, we've been able to offer the flexibility of a dedicated launch tailored precisely to NorthStar's mission requirements. In tandem, Spire's Space Services team, working closely with Rocket Lab, has played a pivotal role in constructing and customizing all mission components, ensuring seamless alignment with NorthStar's unique needs. This collaboration is a testament to our commitment to removing barriers in space business and contributing to a more sustainable future in space.”

‘Four of a Kind’ will be Rocket Lab’s first launch as part of a sold-out launch manifest for 2024 and will be the Company’s 43rd Electron mission overall.