On Mar. 25, 2023, Rocket Lab successfully launched two BlackSky’s Gen-2 Earth-imaging satellites.
“The Beat Goes On” mission was launched from Pad B at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand, and brought the total number of satellites delivered by Electron to orbit to 159.
The pair of high-resolution, multi-spectral, Gen-2 satellites expanded BlackSky’s network in space bringing the total number of spacecraft in the company’s constellation to 16.
BlackSky combines high-resolution images captured by its constellation of microsatellites with its artificial intelligence software to deliver analytics and insights to industries including transportation, infrastructure, land use, defense, supply chain management, and humanitarian aid.
Spaceflight Inc, an American aerospace company that specializes in organizing rideshare space launches, provided integration and mission management services for this mission.
“The Beat Goes On” was Rocket Lab’s second launch in about a week, following the liftoff of the “Stronger Together” mission from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Electron is an expendable vehicle but, during recent missions, Rocket Lab attempted to recover its first stage after it parachutes back to Earth and splashes down in the Pacific Ocean.
The recovery team retrieves Electron using a custom vessel and transports it to the company’s manufacturing complex for analysis.
The data from the recovered stage will help the Rocket Lab’s recovery and reuse program for their next vehicle, a larger rocket called Neutron; its first stage is designed to land vertically and fly again.
Another recovery method used by Rocket Lab is to capture the first stage in mid-air with a specially modified helicopter.
Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab is a space company that delivers reliable launch services, satellite manufacture, spacecraft components, and on-orbit management solutions that make it faster, easier, and more affordable to access space.
The company designs and manufactures the Electron small orbital launch vehicle, and the Photon satellite platform. It is also developing the Neutron 13-ton payload class launch vehicle with a fully reusable first stage.
Since its first orbital launch in 2018, Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle has become the second most frequently launched US rocket annually and has delivered 159 satellites to orbit for private and public sector organizations, enabling operations in national security, scientific research, space debris mitigation, Earth observation, climate monitoring, and communications.
Rocket Lab has three launch pads: two at a private orbital launch site located in New Zealand and a third in Virginia (Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2).