Rocket Lab’s 33rd Electron mission. Credits: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab Awarded $14 Million Task Order To Launch STP-S30 For The US Space Force

Rocket Lab was awarded a $14 million task order by the USSF to launch the Space Test Program-30 mission on board an Electron rocket from Launch Complex 2

On April 8, Rocket Lab announced that it had been awarded a $14,49 million task order by the U.S. Space Force (USSF). The contract involves the launch of the Space Test Program-30 (STP-S30) mission on board an Electron rocket from Launch Complex 2, at NASA Wallops Flight Facility.

STP-S30 will deliver research experiments and technology demonstrations for the US Department of Defense. The primary payload will be the DiskSat technology demonstrator. DiskSat is a disk-shaped, 1-meter in diameter satellite bus, developed by Aerospace with NASA funding.

The project aims to develop a more efficient model, surpassing standard CubeSats. The plate-shaped spacecraft can provide much more power to the instruments over a larger surface area thanks to its high-aperture capabilities. This new type of satellite could further reduce launch costs and allow for greater utilization of the interior space of fairings, especially in small launch vehicles.

“Flexible, responsive, and reliable launch is critical to ensuring resilient space capabilities for the nation and we’re proud to deliver it to the Space Force once again with Electron.”

— Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO


The OSP-4 program

The STP-S30 is part of the Orbital Services Program-4 (OSP-4), managed by the USSF’s Space Systems Command (SSC). OSP-4, launched in October 2019, is tailored for payloads exceeding 181 kg. Service providers must ensure delivery of these payloads to orbit within 12 to 24 months post-order placement.

The procurement involves about twenty missions by 2030, with a total value of $986 million in contracts. The selected launch providers were originally eight: SpaceX, Rocket Lab, Northrop Grumman, United Launch Alliance, Firefly, Aevum, VOX Space, and X-Bow. In 2021, ABL, Astra, and Relativity joined the pool of companies that could be selected for mission launches.

SpaceX and Northrop Grumman were the only companies selected under the former OSP-3 program.


An advantageous partnership

Rocket Lab has built an important partnership with the U.S. Defense over the years, by providing both launch services and the development of dedicated space systems. In 2022, they announced the creation of Rocket Lab National Security LLC (RLNS), a subsidiary dedicated to serving the defense and intelligence community.

Since the Electron debut launch, Rocket Lab has successfully conducted several launch missions for US national security customers, including missions for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), USSF, and DARPA. In January, the company was selected by the Space Development Agency to design and build 18 Tranche 2 Transport Layer-Beta Data Transport Satellites (T2TL-Beta).

HASTE Electron launch from the Wallops Flight Facility. Credits: Rocket Lab
HASTE Electron launch from the Wallops Flight Facility. Credits: Rocket Lab

The HASTE suborbital vehicle has also become a strategic asset for the development of new hypersonic technologies for the defense sector and it already has numerous missions scheduled for 2024 and 2025. During the main flight, it launched a payload for Leidos under the Navy’s Multi-Service Advanced Capability Hypersonic Test Bed (MACH-TB) program.

Furthermore, RLNS was selected by DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) as a program partner for the hypersonic and high-cadence testing (HyCat) project, aimed at accelerating the development of potential hypersonic technologies.


Share this article:
Francesco Sebastiano Moro

Francesco Sebastiano Moro

Aerospace engineering student at University of Padua, passionate of space and aerospace sector.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *