Rocket Lab Signs Contract to Launch First Satellites for Kleos Space Constellation

Electron rocket on the launch pad. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

LUXEMBOURG and HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif., 19 September 2018 (Rocket Lab/Kleos Space PR) — US orbital launch provider Rocket Lab has signed a contract with Luxembourg-based satellite technology company Kleos Space to launch the scouting mission satellites that will geolocate maritime radio to guard borders, protect assets and save lives.

The multi-satellite system of the Kleos Scouting Mission (KSM) will form the cornerstones of a 20-system constellation that will geolocate VHF transmissions from marine vessels to provide global activity-based intelligence data as a service. The Kleos Space constellation will detect radio transmissions and pinpoint their origin and timing, enabling governments and organizations to detect activity such as drug and people smuggling, illegal fishing and piracy, and also identify those in need of search and rescue at sea.

Built by GomSpace, the Kleos Space satellites are scheduled to launch on an Electron rocket from Launch Complex-1 in mid-2019. The satellites will be integrated into Rocket Lab’s in-house designed and built Maxwell dispensers and deployed from the Electron kick stage to low Earth orbit. Rocket Lab’s unique kick stage, powered by the 3D printed Curie engine, is designed to circularize small satellite orbits and perform complex manoeuvres, including multiple engine burns, to deploy many satellites into different orbits. This provides unmatched mission flexibility, making it ideal for deploying and replenishing constellations.

“Small satellite technology like that of Kleos Space is increasingly playing a vital role in informing decisions on the ground that protect people and the environment. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Kleos Space to provide them with the rapid and reliable access to orbit needed to build and replenish small satellite constellations,” said Peter Beck, CEO Rocket Lab.

“Rocket Lab’s technology provides us with the flexibility we need to grow our satellite constellation and respond to the demanding market needs. We are thrilled to launch our first satellites with a new space company which meets our business philosophy”, says Andy Bowyer, CEO Kleos Space.

  • SamuelRoman13

    If they ever get their problems with the complicated system they use fixed. The flight was indefinitely postponed 28 June 2018 to fix “process issue with production” of a motor controller.[42](Wiki)

  • Aerospike

    Yeah, I was thinking among the same lines.

    I’m usually not a negative person and tend to root for any startups and underdogs in the face of problems.

    But RocketLab really needs to get their problems fixed and their launch cadence up before others like Vector Space Systems and Virgin Orbit are starting to fly…

  • envy

    They said this week that they are planning 2 more launches yet this year and 16 next year.

    I think they had to rework a bunch of production and retest/requalify the motor controllers. That would take several months, but still allow a burst of launches since production of vehicles is still continuing.