Rocket Lab launched two more BlackSky satellites on December 8, a day after receiving a deal from a Japanese business for three radar imaging satellite launches. At 7:02 p.m. Eastern, a Rocket Lab Electron launched from the firm’s Launch Complex One situated in New Zealand. About an hour later, the rocket launched two BlackSky satellites into 430-kilometer-high orbits with 42-degree inclinations.
The launch came barely 3 weeks after another Electron launched two more BlackSky satellites from the same launch location. The launches are part of a Spaceflight-negotiated deal that also involves a third deployment of the BlackSky satellites at the beginning of the year 2022.
“These back-to-back missions demonstrate the benefits of rapid launch in action: streamlined access to space, rapid constellation expansion, and fast delivery of worldwide insights to BlackSky customers, which Rocket Lab is delighted to facilitate with a dedicated launch on Electron,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab’s CEO, in a statement following the launch.
In addition to Electron deployments, BlackSky flew two more satellites as rideshare payloads on the Starlink launch on December 2 with a SpaceX Falcon 9. With this latest launch, BlackSky is going to have 12 satellites in service, allowing it to provide six-per-day revisit rates in “important markets,” according to the business.
This was the Electron’s sixth and last launch of 2021. Rocket Lab had planned for a higher launch rate in 2021 but was slowed by a May launch failure which grounded Electron for 2.5 months, as well as global epidemic restrictions in New Zealand, which put deployments on hold between that late-July return-to-flight mission and the BlackSky launch on November 18.
Rocket Lab revealed a deal with Synspective, which is a Japanese startup creating a constellation of the SAR (synthetic aperture radar) satellites, for three flights in 2022 and 2023, just a day before the launch. Starting with the StriX-demonstration satellite in early 2022, each launch will contain a single StriX SAR satellite. StriX-, Rocket Lab’s first satellite, was launched in December 2020.
In a statement, Beck said, “We’re thrilled the Synspective group has once again picked Electron to extend their StriX constellation.” “We understand the value of dedicated orbits and specific mission parameters for the constellations, and we’re thrilled to provide the Synspective team with a tailored launch and integration solution once again.”
Space has shaped some of humanity’s most significant achievements, and it continues to do so now. Rocket Lab is driven by the immense influence they can make on Earth by enabling it easy to travel to space and perform amazing things there. They construct and deploy satellites that enable innovation and discovery, keep countries linked and secure borders, monitor weather and waste, provide insights into climate change, and assist in resource management for future generations.