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Rocket Lab to launch Space Situational Awareness mission for Spire and NorthStar
The launch, scheduled no earlier than January 18, will take place from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand between 19:15-20:00 NZT (06:15-07:00 UTC).
Rocket Lab to launch Space Situational Awareness mission for Spire and NorthStar
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jan 09, 2024

Rocket Lab USA has announced the launch window for its inaugural mission of 2024, the 'Four of a Kind' mission, which is set to deploy four cutting-edge Space Situational Awareness (SSA) satellites. The launch, scheduled no earlier than January 18, will take place from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand between 19:15-20:00 NZT (06:15-07:00 UTC).

These satellites, the result of a collaboration between Spire Global, Inc. (Spire) and their customer NorthStar Earth and Space (NorthStar), represent a novel advancement in SSA technology. For the first time, satellites will monitor all near-Earth orbits simultaneously, providing comprehensive SSA services. This will include space object detection, tracking, orbit determination, collision avoidance, navigation, and proximity alerts, delivering precise and timely information essential for the global satellite community.

Rocket Lab's CEO, Peter Beck, emphasized the significance of this mission and the progress towards the reusability of their Electron rocket. The mission includes a secondary objective to splash down and retrieve Electron's first stage, a critical step in their journey toward reusability. This process involves the first stage returning to Earth under a parachute, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, and being retrieved for analysis-a procedure that does not involve pre-flown engines.

Beck notes, "With each recovery mission, we iterate toward Electron reusability. With recent launches, we've made significant leaps forward with more successful splashdowns, recoveries, and the first launch of a pre-flown Rutherford engine."

The mission also marks a significant collaboration between Rocket Lab and Spire Global. Peter Platzer, co-founder and CEO of Spire Global, highlights the meticulous collaboration shaping this mission. "Through our joint efforts with Rocket Lab, we've been able to offer the flexibility of a dedicated launch tailored precisely to NorthStar's mission requirements," says Platzer. He adds that Spire's Space Services team has worked closely with Rocket Lab to construct and customize all mission components, aligning seamlessly with NorthStar's unique needs.

This mission is not just a technological milestone but also a reflection of the enduring partnership between Rocket Lab and Spire Global, which began with Rocket Lab's first orbital mission in 2018. Beck reflects on this partnership, "To launch an advanced mission like this with Spire as a mission partner is a real privilege. To be partnered up again and both still pushing boundaries with new technology and capabilities all these years later is a great full circle moment."

'Four of a Kind' will be Rocket Lab's first launch in a fully booked launch manifest for 2024 and marks the company's 43rd Electron mission. This launch underscores Rocket Lab's continued commitment to enhancing space safety and technology, and Spire Global's dedication to a more sustainable future in space. The collaboration between these entities sets a new standard in the space industry, combining technological innovation with strategic partnerships to address some of the most pressing challenges in space situational awareness and access.

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Madrid, Spain (SPX) Dec 22, 2023
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