RocketLab says second trial flight will carry payloads
Rocket Lab will fly payloads for satellites on its next test flight.
The company said its Electron orbital launch vehicle would carry two Earth-imaging Dove satellites for satellite imagery firm Planet and two Lemur-2 satellites from satellite data firm Spire for weather mapping and ship traffic tracking.
It will be the second of three flights in Rocket Lab's Electron test programme, launched from the Māhia Peninsula.
Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck said it was a significant milestone for the Electron programme, which would gather crucial data and test systems for the deployment stage of a mission.
"We're thrilled with Electron's performance in the first test flight and now we're eager to test the next crucial step – payload deployment. No major changes to the launch vehicle hardware have been required, the third-party error that meant we didn't make orbit has been corrected and we're focusing on the six Electron vehicles in production right now," Beck said.
"While we're still very much operating in a test phase and can likely expect a few scrubs during the second test flight attempt, we're incredibly excited about carrying Planet and Spire payloads on Electron. The data these companies gather has an increasingly significant role to play in how we understand our planet and better manage it."
Senior director of launch at Planet Mike Safvan said the companies had a shared ethos of "dreaming big".
"The Electron will be a game changer in a traditionally difficult launch market. We are excited to quite literally be riding the leading edge with Rocket Lab."
Planet's network of 190 satellites collects more imagery daily than any other commercial provider.
It uses machine learning-driven analytics to create unique insights that deliver crucial market intelligence for businesses, governments, and NGOs.
Spire, the world's first commercial weather satellite constellation, adds two satellites to an existing constellation of Lemur-2 satellites that cover every location on Earth more than 100 times per day.
The multi-sensor satellites gather global atmospheric measurements for advanced weather warnings and predictions and track global ship traffic for multiple commercial and government applications.
The Electron vehicle for the Still Testing flight is expected to be trucked to Rocket Lab's launch complex on the Māhia Peninsula, New Zealand, in October. A launch window is expected to open in the weeks following once vehicle checks are complete.