Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, today announced it has successfully launched its 35th Electron rocket from Mahia, New Zealand, deploying two multi-spectral Gen-2 satellites to low Earth orbit for BlackSky (NYSE: BKSY) through launch services provider Spaceflight, Inc. The mission took place just seven days following the Company’s previous Electron mission from Launch Complex 2 in Virginia, setting a new company record for fastest turnaround between Electron missions.
The mission, named “The Beat Goes On,” lifted off at 09:14 UTC, 24 March 2023 from Pad B at Launch Complex 1, Rocket Lab’s private launch site on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula.
“Electron has repeatedly proven itself as a reliable constellation builder and today we’re proud to deliver mission success once again for BlackSky and Spaceflight after many previous missions together,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “Launching two successful missions just seven days apart from two different hemispheres is a real demonstration of responsive space in action, and successfully splashing down Electron’s first stage as part of our reusability program is the icing on the cake.”
In addition to delivering BlackSky’s satellites to orbit, Rocket Lab accomplished a successful ocean splashdown of Electron’s first stage in an effort to make Electron the world’s first reusable orbital small launch vehicle. The first stage will now be transported back to Rocket Lab’s production complex for assessment, testing and requalification to inform future recovery missions. Pending the outcome of these assessments Rocket Lab may choose to proceed with marine operations as the primary recovery method, opting to transition away from helicopter use.
Rocket Lab is on track this year to surpass its launch record of nine launches set in 2022 with 15 planned launches. Upcoming disclosed Electron missions in 2023 include two launches for the NASA TROPICS constellation, the first of five dedicated missions for Internet-of-Things (IoT) connectivity provider Kine´is; several launches for Capella Space, and the launch of a mission to demonstrate space debris removal technology by Astroscale Japan.