Rocket Lab just sent two more private Earth observation satellites skyward.
A Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle lifted off Saturday, April 2, at 8:41 a.m. EST (1241 GMT) from the company’s Launch Complex 1 on Mahia Pensula in New Zealand. Local time was 1:10 a.m. Sunday morning at the launch site.
The two-stage Electron rocket carried two spacecraft for Virginia-based company BlackSky. They were successfully deployed about 40 minutes after takeoff.
“The payloads deployed another mission that was 100% successful for the team,” said Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck. wrote on Twitter after successful launch.
Related: Rocket Lab and its Electron booster (photos)
Rocket Lab, which dubbed this launch “Without Mission A Beat”, did not attempt to recover the Electron’s first stage during this launch. (Eventually, Rocket Lab plans to use a helicopter to pluck falling Electron first stages out of the sky; it’s done oceanic booster recoveries on several previous missions.)
BlackSky and Rocket Lab have been longtime partners, as Electrons has orbited most of BlackSky’s constellation since 2019. Saturday’s mission was organized for BlackSky by launch service provider Spaceflight Inc.
“BlackSky’s proprietary constellation has one of the highest hourly revisit rates in the world, providing customers with persistent monitoring and change detection in areas of economic activity across the globe,” Rocket Lab said in his “Without Mission a Beat” press kit.
BlackSky satellites are used by government agencies with a collection of large companies known as Global 2000, according to Rocket Lab. BlackSky’s platform, called Spectra AI, uses artificial intelligence techniques to automate the detection of fast-changing information for its customers.
“BlackSky supports critical day-to-day decision making across a range of applications that include homeland security, supply chain intelligence, crisis management and response, critical infrastructure, and business intelligence” , said Rocket Lab.
BlackSky is also one of the companies helping the world monitor the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24.
“Without Mission A Beat” will deliver two @blacksky_inc payloads to low Earth orbit, building their constellation to 14 sats – the majority of which have been deployed by Electron across missions from 2019. Launch window opens 02 April UTC, 12:10 p.m. More info: https://t.co/qMbrht2edH pic.twitter.com/g6k4DSjI3EMarch 31, 2022
Rocket Lab has announced a few upcoming missions, including one scheduled for Q2 2022 that will send three demonstration satellites aloft for the E-Space company.
“E-Space aims to reduce the launch requirements of a full constellation to months instead of years – reducing the time it takes to scale, resupply or deliver a complete system,” Rocket Lab said at about the recently announced contract.
Rocket Lab is also planning launches for Earth imaging company Synspective, Internet of Things satellite provider Kinéis, and government customers like NASA and the US National Reconnaissance Office. Other future missions are focused on orbital debris mitigation and Venus exploration, according to Rocket Lab’s manifesto.
Saturday’s launch came just weeks after Rocket Lab announced it would build its next-generation Neutron rocket on Wallops Island, Virginia, near the company’s US coastal launch pad. (The company also launched a new second launch pad at its New Zealand site on Feb. 28, with an Electron booster successfully blasting off.)
Neutron, which will be reusable, will send larger payloads into orbit than Electron. Rocket Lab said the larger Neutron rocket will orbit larger sets of satellites, as well as fuel-intensive interplanetary missions and potentially even human missions. Neutron’s first scheduled launch is in 2024.