The system, announced today at the SmallSat conference in Utah, enables CubeSat customers to request a booking on Rocket Lab’s Electron, selecting a date, destination and even allowing them to select their position on the rocket.
“In addition to affordable and frequent launch, making space accessible means giving customers information about what they can launch, when they can launch it, and how much it’s going to cost,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab CEO. “Previously, this information has been widely difficult to access and the booking process was often cumbersome – now you can do this on your phone.”
Rocket Lab has seen significant interest in its CubeSat launch service, with many flights over 80 percent full for the next three years.
“We’re determined to make space accessible for commercial applications,” Beck said. “Many organizations need to start utilizing satellites to provide competitive advantages in their daily work—be it resource management, data gathering, or improved communications technology.”
The system released today is for customers looking to launch CubeSats. CubeSats can be used for services including weather monitoring, maritime data gathering, crop optimization and natural disaster management.
Like many other technologies, satellites have considerably reduced in size. CubeSats are a standardized platform that can be configured to be as small as a 100mm by 100mm cube, weighing less than 2 kilograms.
CubeSat launch prices when Rocket Lab’s booking system was released were:
- USD$50,000 – $90,000 for a 1u cube satellite launch
- USD$180,000 – $250,000 for a 3u cube satellite launch (3 x 1u)
Launch prices reduce or increase based on available space and proximity to the launch date. Destinations offered include sun-synchronous and 45 degrees.
“As we learn more about our customers’ needs and preferences, we’ll develop additional features on the system,” said Beck.
Electron is an entirely carbon-composite vehicle that uses Rocket Lab’s Rutherford engines for its main propulsion system. Rocket Lab recently announced the Rutherford engine makes use of electric turbo-pumps and that the majority of its components are 3D printed.
Electron is 16m in length, 1.20m in diameter and has a lift-off mass of 12,800 kg. The vehicle is capable of delivering payloads of up to 150 kg to a 500 km sun-synchronous orbit, which is the target range for the high growth constellation-satellite market. With a dedicated launch priced at $4.9 million, Electron is the most affordable small satellite launch vehicle.
About Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab’s mission is to remove commercial barriers to space. The company was founded on the belief that small payloads require dedicated launch vehicles and a flexibility not currently offered by traditional launch systems. Rocket Lab is a privately funded company with its major investors including Khosla Ventures, K1W1, Bessemer Venture Partners and Lockheed Martin. Founded in 2008, Rocket Lab is headquartered in Los Angeles with operations and a launch site in New Zealand.