Rocket Lab signs deal for ten AM-engined Electron rocket launches

June 25, 2024

June 25, 2024

Rocket Lab has signed a ten-launch deal with Synspective (Courtesy Synspective)
Rocket Lab has signed a ten-launch deal with Synspective (Courtesy Synspective)

Rocket Lab USA, Inc, Long Beach, California, USA, has signed the largest Electron launch agreement in the company’s history; a ten-launch deal with Earth observation company Synspective, based in Tokyo, Japan. The Electron launch vehicle is powered by the Rutherford Engine, reported to be the world’s first additively manufactured, electric pump-fed rocket engine.

The agreement was announced in Tokyo at an event attended by Rocket Lab founder and CEO Sir Peter Beck, Synspective founder and CEO Dr Motoyuki Arai and New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, who was in Japan with a business delegation to deepen ties and accelerate growth in technology and other sectors.

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Rocket Lab has been the sole launch provider for Synspective since 2020 when the Company deployed the first satellite in Synspective’s synthetic aperture radar (SAR) constellation, which is designed to deliver imagery that can detect millimetre-level changes to the Earth’s surface from space. Since that first mission, Rocket Lab has been the sole launch provider for Synspective’s StriX constellation to date, successfully deploying four StriX satellites across four dedicated Electron launches.

In addition to the ten new dedicated launches, another two launches for Synspective have already been booked and are scheduled for launch this year from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand. The launches in the new deal are expected to take place across 2025-2027.

By launching as the sole payload on Electron, Synspective has control over the launch schedule as well as the precise deployment parameters for each satellite, enabling them to build their constellation out on their terms and maximise the coverage they can provide to their end customers.

“We are honoured that the Synspective team has once again entrusted Rocket Lab with the deployment of their constellation and we’re proud to be their launch partner for another ten missions, our largest launch agreement to date,” stated Peter Beck. “Japan’s space industry is one of the fastest growing globally and we’re excited to be enabling this growth through the unique collaboration of a US rocket and a New Zealand launch site, delivering an unprecedented level of tailored access to orbit for Japanese small satellites.”

Rutherford engines are used as both first stage and second stage engines on the Electron launch vehicle, with nine engines on the first stage (above) and a single vacuum optimised engine on the second stage (Courtesy Rocket Lab)
Rutherford engines are used as both first stage and second stage engines on the Electron launch vehicle, with nine engines on the first stage (above) and a single vacuum optimised engine on the second stage (Courtesy Rocket Lab)

Synspective founder and CEO, Dr Motoyuki Arai, shared, “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Rocket Lab to launch ten new satellites. This agreement gives us a solid foundation and confidence, as Rocket Lab is an innovative launch provider. We look to accelerate building our satellite constellation and expand our services in the future. We appreciate Rocket Lab’s significant role in moving our business forward. We will continue to build an analytics platform that enables visualisation and analysis of global environmental and economic activities, starting with constructing a SAR satellite constellation. These efforts will help make human activities sustainable for our generation and address the challenges of a changing global environment and depleting resources.”

“New Zealand innovation in space technology is rapidly putting our country on the map in this fast-growing industry. I am very pleased to witness the signing of this significant contract during my first visit to Japan as Prime Minister – it is a clear demonstration of the many opportunities to grow trade and prosperity between our two nations. Collaboration with international partners is critical to enabling our space industry to maximise its potential on the global stage,” Christopher Luxor concluded.

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June 25, 2024

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