Rocket Lab Inks Deal to Launch Five Missions for BlackSky Constellation
The deployment of nine of BlackSky’s latest-generation small sats across five Electron missions represents the largest number of satellites BlackSky has committed to a single launch provider to date.
Long Beach, California. 25 March 2021 – Rocket Lab, a global leader in launch and space systems, has today announced it will launch multiple missions to low Earth orbit for BlackSky, a leading provider of real-time geospatial intelligence and global monitoring services.
The multi-launch agreement with launch services provider Spaceflight Inc., who will manage the integration and launch services for BlackSky, includes the launch of nine BlackSky satellites across five Electron missions this year. The deal represents the largest number of satellites BlackSky has committed to a single launch provider to date and includes the successful launch of BlackSky’s latest spacecraft on Rocket Lab’s “They Go Up So Fast” rideshare mission earlier this week.
Eight of BlackSky’s 130 kg class satellites will be launched across four dedicated missions on Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle throughout 2021 in a demonstration of rapidly-acquired launch services. This responsive launch capability supports the aggressive scaling of BlackSky’s satellite constellation to meet the demand for real-time global monitoring and analysis services for public and private organizations. These satellites will join three existing BlackSky satellites launched by Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle across 2019 and on the most recent mission this week. The agreement also includes options for an additional two dedicated missions on Electron in Q4 2021.
Rocket Lab Founder and CEO, Peter Beck, says Electron’s dedicated launch service provides the reliability and speed to space that is critical for companies like BlackSky building out their satellite constellations and growing their businesses.
“We’re thrilled to be providing dedicated and reliable access to orbit for Spaceflight and its customer BlackSky. Electron puts our customers in control of their launch schedule and orbital deployment parameters, giving them more certainty in crucial business growth phases,” said Mr. Beck. “By securing streamlined space access on Electron, BlackSky can focus on what matters most to their mission – providing real-time, actionable data to decision makers on the ground when they need it most.”
Brian E. O’Toole, CEO of BlackSky, said: “Rocket Lab simplifies the path to orbit. Dedicated launch on Electron is the key enabler for us to rapidly develop our constellation on our own terms which is hugely important in unlocking more analytic and data-driven opportunities for our customers.”
The BlackSky satellites join a busy launch manifest for Rocket Lab in 2021 which includes a scheduled dedicated mission for the U.S. Space Force, a mission to the Moon for NASA, and launches for a range of commercial customers. Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle is the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually since 2019, having deployed more than 100 satellites to space for commercial and government customers across 17 orbital missions. Electron has become a workhorse launch vehicle for the small satellite industry and provides uniquely targeted access to orbit for constellation satellites.
The launch agreement follows on from a March 1 announcement that Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (“Rocket Lab”) and Vector Acquisition Corporation (Nasdaq: VACQ) (“Vector”), a special purpose acquisition company backed by leading technology investor Vector Capital, have entered into a definitive merger agreement that will result in Rocket Lab becoming a publicly traded company. The transaction is estimated to be completed in Q2 2021 and, at that time, Vector will change its name to Rocket Lab USA, Inc. and the combined company is expected to trade under the Nasdaq ticker symbol RKLB.
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About Rocket Lab
As a global leader in launch and space systems, Rocket Lab is transforming space access. Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab provides end-to-end mission services that provide frequent and reliable access to space for civil, defense, and commercial markets. Headquartered in Long Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the Electron and Neutron launch vehicles and Photon satellite platform. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle has become the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually and has delivered 104 satellites to orbit for private and public sector organizations, enabling operations in national security, scientific research, space debris mitigation, Earth observation, climate monitoring, and communications. Rocket Lab operates two launch sites, including the world’s only private orbital launch site located in New Zealand, and a second launch site in Virginia, USA. To learn more, visit www.rocketlabusa.com.
BlackSky is a leading provider of real-time geospatial intelligence. BlackSky monitors activities and facilities worldwide by harnessing the world’s emerging sensor networks and leveraging its own satellite constellation. BlackSky processes millions of observations from its constellation as well as a variety of space, IoT, and terrestrial based sensors and data feeds. BlackSky’s on-demand constellation of satellites can image a location multiple times throughout the day. BlackSky monitors for pattern-of-life anomalies to produce alerts and enhance situational awareness. BlackSky’s monitoring service, Spectra AI, is powered by cutting-edge compute techniques including machine learning, artificial intelligence, computer vision, and natural language processing. BlackSky’s global monitoring solution is available via a simple subscription and requires no IT infrastructure or setup. For more information visit www.blacksky.com.
About Spaceflight Inc.
As the premier global launch services provider, Spaceflight is revolutionizing the business of space transportation through its comprehensive suite of launch services and Sherpa® orbital transfer vehicles. The company provides unprecedented launch flexibility to ensure customers' smallsats get to orbit exactly when and where they want through a combination of long-standing relationships with a diverse portfolio of launch partners, innovative satellite integration capabilities, including flight and ground support hardware, licensing and logistics management, and extensive mission management expertise. Based in Seattle, Spaceflight has successfully launched hundreds of satellites and is a part of the Mitsui & Co., Ltd. portfolio, operating as an independent, U.S.-based company. For more information, visit http://www.spaceflight.com.
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