The Electron is an ideal launch vehicle for dedicated and rideshare missions, especially those serving difficult-to-come-by launch destinations such as mid-inclination orbits for remote sensing satellites. In late 2015, Spaceflight began their dedicated rideshare launch service with the purchase of a SpaceX Falcon 9 and now expands the rocket partnership to Rocket Lab with the Electron.
Dedicated rideshare for smallsats is a new launch alternative that blends cost-effective rideshare pricing (where several payloads share the same launch to a specific destination) with first-class service, typically associated with buying a private rocket. Spaceflight provides multiple launch options to ensure organizations can access space when they need to, at a much lower cost than buying their own launch vehicle.
Spaceflight has launched more than 100 satellites to date from a variety of launch vehicles including PSLV, Dnepr, Antares, Cygnus, Soyuz and others. The frequency of satellite launches, combined with Spaceflight’s cross-section of customers and variety of mission-applications, is a strong indicator of the growing capabilities of small satellites and the need for more timely and cost-effective access to space.
The companies have not yet announced a date for the Electron dedicated rideshare mission.
According to Curt Blake, the President of Spaceflight’s launch business, there are numerous rideshare launches each year to Sun Synchronous Orbit; however, getting to 45 to 60 degrees is hard to find and can cost the equivalent of buying an entire rocket. Spaceflight is thrilled to be working with Rocket Lab to enable the company's customers’ remote sensing missions that require high revisit time over North America, Europe, and the Middle East.
Peter Beck, the Rocket Lab CEO, added, the Electron is an entirely carbon-composite vehicle that is designed to carry payloads of 225 kg to an elliptical orbit and up to 150 kg to a nominal 500 km sun synchronous LEO. Rocket Lab looks forward to expanding this relationship and operational manifest with Spaceflight as the firm increases market reach and removes the barriers to commercial space.