A family of advanced configurable spacecraft
for a range of mission profiles

SPACECRAFT design, build, integration, test, launcH & OPERATION

Our family of reliable spacecraft are designed to enable commercial missions as well as a broad range of civil, defense and intelligence missions, from single spacecraft to constellations. Our spacecraft leverage our deep vertical integration, incorporating in-house designed and manufactured satellite componentry, subsystems and software to drive reliable performance, cost-efficiency and rapid delivery timelines.

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40+ spacecraft
in backlog
4 Rocket Lab
1,700 spacecraft featuring
Rocket Lab satellite

Your mission, your way

Mission Design

We partner with our customers to tailor spacecraft solutions for their missions. Starting with reliable, flight-proven base platforms, we tailor each spacecraft to give our customers the performance they need while ensuring flexibility for mission-specific requirements. We work closely with our customers every step of the way to refine the design and pivot quickly to serve our customer’s ever evolving needs.

Spacecraft Components

Rocket Lab is vertically integrated, developing and manufacturing components, subsystems and software in-house to drive efficiency, accelerate production timelines, and deliver cost savings. Rocket Lab spacecraft incorporate flight proven star trackers, propulsion, reaction wheels, solar cells, panels and arrays, flight and ground software, radios, avionics, composite structures and tanks, and separation systems. Rocket Lab components and subsystems have flown successfully on 1,700 missions globally...and counting.

Assembly, Integration & Test

Our spacecraft are manufactured at Rocket Lab’s Spacecraft Production Complex in Long Beach, California. The complex is home to a 11,000 sq/ft state-of-the-art cleanroom equipped with an array of critical testing facilities for spacecraft-level test, including thermal vacuum, vibration, and electromagnetic interference (EMI) / electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). Once tested and certified for flight, we ship the completed spacecraft to the launch site for integration onto the launch vehicle.


Choose from an integrated launch + spacecraft solution on Electron or Neutron, or select from a range of other launch providers globally. We have deep experience launching spacecraft on our own launch vehicles and integrating spacecraft with other providers. We work with our customers to determine the best launch solution for them and provide mission management services to secure necessary licenses, provide transport to the launch site, integrate the spacecraft with the rocket and manage launch logistics.

Mission Operations

Through our own ground stations, integration with a broad range of networks, and a partnership with KSAT, we have global ground station coverage enabling our customers to communicate, downlink, and process data from their satellites. Rocket Lab provides on-orbit management solutions from our satellite operations centers in Long Beach, California, Auckland, New Zealand, and Littleton, Colorado. We can also train our customers on how to operate their systems.

Rocket Lab Spacecraft

Our family of reliable spacecraft deliver affordability, performance, and configurability for a range of missions spanning LEO, MEO, GEO and interplanetary destinations.

Our spacecraft are highly customizable and entirely new platforms can be developed based on heritage hardware to meet our customers’ mission requirements.

Rocket Lab’s interplanetary spacecraft platform

A high delta-V spacecraft with large propellant tanks, deep space capable avionics, and ranging transpondersExplorer enables small spacecraft missions to planetary destinations like Mars and Venus, the Moonhighly eccentric Earth orbits, geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO), Earth-moon Lagrange points, Earth-sun Lagrange points, and near Earth objects (NEOs). Depending on the mission profile, Explorer can be launched on Electron, Neutron or other launch vehicles. Explorer gained flight heritage during the CAPSTONE mission to the Moon for NASA and forms the basis of the twin spacecraft Rocket Lab is developing for the ESCAPADE mission to Mars for NASA and the University of California, Berkeley.  

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NASA Capstone Mission To The Moon
Using the Explorer platform, Rocket Lab delivered a launch+ spacecraft solution to NASA, successfully deploying the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat on a highly efficient transfer orbit to the Moon.

Launched on Electron in 2022, the mission successfully achieved its objective to test and verify the calculated orbital stability of a Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit around the Moon, the same orbit planned for Gateway.
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Venus Lifefinder Mission
In partnership with researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rocket Lab is using an Explorer platform to search for habitable conditions and signs of life in Venus’ cloud layer.
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NASA Escapade Mars Mission
Rocket Lab is developing twin Explorer spacecraft for NASA’s Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (ESCAPADE) mission, led by the University of California Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory.
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Rocket Lab’s newest bus for high-power, long-life missions

Rocket Lab’s newest spacecraft bus is designed for a 12+ year orbital lifespan in LEOdelivers highpower and high radiation tolerance, incorporating redundancy in critical subsystems. This ~3 kW bus is ideal for high operational duty cycle telecommunications and remote sensing applicationsLightning can be launched on Neutron and other medium and heavy launch vehicles. Lightning is based on the same design as the custom spacecraft Rocket Lab developed for Globalstar and is the basis for the Company’s bus for the Space Development Agency. 

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Globalstar Communications Constellation
Rocket Lab’s Lightning has been selected as the platform for 17 spacecraft buses for Globalstar’s new Low Earth Orbit satellites.

Rocket Lab is leading the development of the spacecraft buses and will also deliver the Satellite Operations Control Center (SOCC) for the program.
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SDA Tranche 2 Transport Layer-Beta Data Transport Satellites
Rocket Lab is the prime contractor for a $515 million contract with the Space Development Agency to lead the design, development, production, test, and operations of the 18 satellites for the Tranche 2 Transport Layer-Beta. The constellation will use a tailored Lightning platform.
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Rocket Lab’s highly maneuverable, responsive spacecraft designed to support large payloads and re-entry capability

A highly configurable medium delta-V platform designed to support payloads up to 120 kg and unique mission profiles, including re-entry missions for Varda Space Industries, and dynamic space operations. Depending on the mission profile, Pioneer can be launched on Electron, Neutron or other launch vehicles.  

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Varda Space Industries in-space manufacturing
Rocket Lab’s Pioneer has been selected as the spacecraft platform to enable in-space manufacturing for Varda Space Industries.

Pioneer provides power, communications, propulsion, and attitude control to Varda’s 120kg capsule that will produce pharmaceutical products in microgravity and return them to Earth. In addition to providing support during the in-space manufacturing phase of Varda’s mission, Pioneer places Varda’s hypersonic re-entry capsule (carrying finished pharmaceuticals on board) on a return trajectory to Earth.

The first Pioneer for Varda was successfully launched in June 2023 and was successfully returned to Earth in February 2024. Three follow up Pioneers in development currently for Varda and a 5th vehicle in development for another customer.
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Rocket Lab’s primary integrated launch + spacecraft solution

The original Rocket Lab spacecraft, Photon is our integrated launch-plus-spacecraft solution. Photon is a modified Electron Kick Stage with power, propulsion, and communications to deliver a capable low Earth orbit (LEO) platform that serves civil, defense and commercial customers across a range of missions. With a mass of 200-300kg, Photon is launched on Electron for responsive space and other challenging missions like cryogenic fuel demonstration, taking advantage of precision orbit insertion, launch on demand, and the lowest launch environments in industry.

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Rocket Lab has been selected by Eta Space to use Electron and Photon to conduct a flight demonstration of a complete cryogenic fluid management system in orbit for NASA - essentially, build, launch, and test a cryogenic fuel depot in low Earth orbit.

Through NASA's Tipping Point program to advance commercial space technologies that also support future NASA missions, LOXSAT will test liquid oxygen storage technologies and collect critical fluid management data while in orbit for nine months, all the while supported by Rocket Lab's Photon spacecraft bus.
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Scalable Spacecraft Solutions

Large Operational