Rocket Lab has successfully launched their 17th Electron mission, deploying the first spacecraft to orbit for synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite data and solutions provider Synspective.
‘The Owl’s Night Begins’ launched from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula at 10:09 UTC, December 15, 2020, and successfully deployed Synspective’s StriX-α to a 500 km circular orbit. The mission brings the total number of payloads deployed by Rocket Lab to 96.
The StriX-α satellite will demonstrate synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology developed by Synspective to be able to image millimeter-level changes to the Earth’s surface from space, independent of weather conditions on Earth and at any time of the day or night. StriX-α is the first of more than 30 satellites planned by Synspective to form a constellation in LEO to collate data on a daily basis that can be used for urban development planning, construction and infrastructure monitoring, and disaster response across Asia.
Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck, said, “Congratulations to the team at Synspective for the successful deployment of their first satellite. We’re proud to be able to continue to provide dedicated launch opportunities for small satellite customers like Synspective. Electron provides truly tailored access to space, enabling our customers to choose exactly when they launch and under their specific mission parameters.”
Synspective Founder and CEO, Dr. Motoyuki Arai, said, “Thanks to the efforts and hard work of both the Rocket Lab and Synspective teams we were able to achieve a successful launch as scheduled, despite the difficult environment of COVID-19. With the launch of StriX-α, Synspective will be able to demonstrate its satellite capabilities and data processing technology. This is the first step towards our constellation of 30 satellites and along with the development of our solutions, a full-scale business expansion will begin. Starting with this success, we will move tangibly closer towards the attainment of an advanced world, expanding people’s understanding and learning capabilities with new data and technologies.”
Details concerning Rocket Lab’s 18th Electron launch will be announced shortly, with the next mission scheduled to take place from Launch Complex 1 early in the new year.
Original launch information…
The 17th Electron launch by Rocket Lab for ‘The Owl’s Night Begins‘ is now scheduled for between 09:00 and 10:59 hours, UTC, on December 15.
A live webcast of this launch will be available about 15 to 20 minutes prior to launch at https:www.rocketlabusa.com/live-stream.
In case such is needed, backup windows for this launch are available through December 24th… let’s hope such is simply not a necessity and that the launch will be successful.
The launch window for ‘The Owl’s Night Begins’ is…
UTC: December 15 (09:00 – 10:59)
NZT: December 15 (22:00 – 23:59)
PT: December 15 (01:00 – 02:59)
ET: December 15 (04:00 – 05:59)
JST: December 15 (18:00 – 19:59)
Original launch information…
The dedicated mission for Synspective is scheduled for lift-off during a 14-day launch window opening on December 12 UTC and will launch from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula to a targeted 500 km circular LEO.
The mission is named ‘The Owl’s Night Begins’ in a nod to Synspective’s StriX family of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) spacecraft developed to be able to image millimeter-level changes to the Earth’s surface from space, independent of weather conditions on Earth and at any time of the day or night. Strix is also the genus of owls.
The StriX-α satellite onboard this mission will be the first of a series of spacecraft deployments for Synspective’s planned constellation of more than 30 SAR smallsats to collate data of metropolitan centers across Asia on a daily basis that can be used for urban development planning, construction and infrastructure monitoring, and disaster response.
For this mission, Rocket Lab will use a custom, expanded fairing to encompass Synspective’s wide-body satellite C, the first use of the expanded fairing options that Rocket Lab recently introduced alongside a suite of vehicle performance improvements, including advances in battery technology which enable an improved payload lift capacity up to 300 kg (660 lbs). Rocket Lab will also perform an advanced mid-mission maneuver with its Kick Stage space tug that will shield the StriX-α satellite from the sun to reduce radiation exposure ahead of payload deployment.
Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck, said, “We’re honored to be providing the ride to orbit for Synspective and playing a pivotal role in deploying the first satellite of their constellation. By flying as a dedicated mission on Electron, the Synspective team have complete control over their orbit and launch schedule, giving them a degree of certainty over a crucial time in their business development.”
Synspective Founder and CEO, Dr. Motoyuki Arai, added, “We are so happy to share this launch of our first satellite, the StriX-α, together with Rocket Lab. This is just the start of a 30 SAR satellites constellation. We are very excited to begin the scaling of our business, which includes both SAR satellites and downstream solutions.”