Rocket Lab Electron first stage (Source: Rocket Lab website)

Rocket Lab adds more IoT and imaging satellites on a busy day

Today, March 22, 2021, Rocket Lab successfully completed its nineteenth Electron mission, putting into orbit seven satellites, including four commercial payloads, two technology demonstration spacecraft for the U.S. Army and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra, and the company’s own next-generation Photon spacecraft.  Earlier today, a Soyuz rocket put 38 satellites into orbit with its own set of imaging and IoT commercial spacecraft.

“They Go Up So Fast” launched at 6:30 PM ET from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex in New Zealand and with the Photon upper stage successfully deployed all six of its passenger satellites.  The Photon itself, named Pathstone by the company, is the seventh satellite and will operate in orbit as a risk reduction demonstration for Rocket Lab missions to the Moon for NASA later this year and the company’s private mission to Venus in 2023. 

BlackSky added its ninth earth observation satellite to its growing constellation.  The company ultimately plans to have a total of 60 satellites in orbit, providing meter resolution and rapid revisit time to any location on the planet.

Internet of Things (IoT) satellites from Fleet Space and Myriota joined their respective fleets.  Fleet Space now has a total of five satellites in orbit with Centauri 3, a 6U cubesat built by Tyvak.  Myriota now has seven of its own satellites, the latest a 3U cubesat also built by Tyvak.

Care Weather Technologies launched a 1U cubesat.  Veery Hatchling v0.1 was built in under 90 days and is designed to demonstrate all the subsystems necessary for its first satellite except a customized weather sensor, including an integrated propulsion module and a custom flight computer.

The University of New South Wales’s Canberra Space M2 spacecraft is a pair of 6U cubesats built in cooperation with the Royal Australian Air Force. It will be used for maritime surveillance as well as “building block” demonstrations of sensors, communications, onboard processing, and formation flying.

Gunsmoke-J is a U.S. Army experimental 3U cubesat is designed to use “emerging advanced electronics to allow the use of dedicated intelligence assets to provide tactically actionable targeting data to warfighters on a responsive and persistent timeline.”

All seven satellites successfully reached orbit and Fleet Technology reported Centaur 3 had successfully checked in at time of publication.

Doug Mohney

Doug Mohney, a principal at Cidera Analytics, has been working and writing about IT and satellite industries for over 20 years. His real world experience including stints at two start-ups, a commercial internet service provider that went public in 1997 for $150 million and a satellite internet broadband company. Follow him on Twitter at DougonTech or contact him at dmohney139 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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