A Rocket Lab technician working on a spacecraft. Credits: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab Unveils New Spacecraft Family

Rocket Lab unveils a lineup of spacecraft buses, meeting the demand for reliable and affordable options in space exploration

Rocket Lab has made a significant announcement today during its quarterly investors call, unveiling a lineup of spacecraft buses. This move follows years of development and custom designs tailored for various customers and missions, reinforcing Rocket Lab’s already significant space systems capabilities.

A Rocket Lab technician working on a spacecraft. Credits: Rocket Lab
A Rocket Lab technician working on a spacecraft. Credits: Rocket Lab


Development and vertical integration

The family of spacecraft, developed over a span of more than four years, is aimed at addressing the pressing need for reliable and efficient spacecraft that can be built swiftly and affordably. Peter Beck, Founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, emphasized the company’s commitment to meeting customer demands for high-performance spacecraft.

“We’ve developed a configurable spacecraft line that delivers high performance at scale, supported by an experienced team, technical maturity, a vertically-integrated supply chain, and advanced manufacturing, test, and operations facilities,” he said in a statement.

Interestingly, the spacecraft family shares common components and subsystems, all designed and manufactured in-house by Rocket Lab. This includes carbon composite structures, star trackers, reaction wheels, solar arrays, radios, separation systems, avionics, flight, and ground software.

“Through vertical integration, we’re able to deliver spacecraft quickly, affordably and reliably using flight-proven components,” said Brad Clevenger, Vice President of Space Systems at Rocket Lab.


A diverse lineup

The lineup includes four distinct spacecraft:

  • Photon: originally introduced as an integrated launch-plus-spacecraft solution, Photon has been modified to serve as a capable low Earth orbit (LEO) platform. With a mass ranging from 200 to 300kg is ideal for various missions, including civil, defense, and commercial applications.
  • Lightning: designed for long-term operation in LEO, boasting high power and radiation tolerance. With an estimated orbital lifespan of over 12 years, Lightning is suited for telecommunications and remote sensing applications requiring high operational duty cycles.
Rocket Lab's spacecrafts family. Credits: Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab’s spacecrafts family. Credits: Rocket Lab
  • Pioneer: this medium delta-V platform is highly configurable and capable of supporting payloads up to 120 kg. It caters to unique mission profiles, including re-entry missions and dynamic space operations.
  • Explorer: designed for missions requiring high delta-V capabilities, is equipped with large propellant tanks and deep space-capable avionics. It enables missions to planetary destinations such as Mars, Venus, the Moon, and near-Earth objects.

Additionally, Rocket Lab’s spacecraft family is currently in production, with a significant backlog of orders. To support this rapid production, the company has established an advanced spacecraft development and manufacturing complex at its Long Beach headquarters.

Moreover, this state-of-the-art facility is equipped to handle constellation-class manufacturing and satellite assembly, integration, and testing for a diverse range of customers in the commercial, civil, and national security sectors.


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Edoardo Giammarino

Edoardo Giammarino

Co-Founder & CEO. Drummer and Red Cross Volunteer, born in 1997. I like analog photography and videomaking. Firmly music-addicted.

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