Rocket Lab, everyone’s favorite US / New Zealand-based smallsat launcher, announced the first launch of its Electron rocket for the year, and yes, it’s going to be BlackSky satellites.
The mission named “Without Mission A Beat” will be the first Electron launch of 2022, and its window opens on February 4. The launch will be from Rocket Lab’s launch complex in New Zealand on LC-1A. This site is where we’ve seen all of Rocket Lab’s launches take place so far.
Onboard will be two BlackSky Gen-2 satellites obtained through launch service provider Spaceflight Inc. BlackSky has taken residency in four of Rocket Lab’s last five launches. Of those missions, one was lost due to an error with the Electron’s second stage.
This mission was intended to be the final launch in a contract signed with Spaceflight Inc for four BlackSky satellites. However, BlackSky added a sixth flight to the agreement, which will occur later this year. After this launch, Rocket Lab will attempt its “back-to-back” launches from LC-1A and B with payloads from the National Reconnaissance Office.
This next mission is part of the largest number of satellites BlackSky have committed in a single deal to a launch provider, and we’re proud to be their trusted partner to help grow their constellation. BlackSky adding another mission to the Rocket Lab manifest is further confirmation of Electron’s status as the dedicated small launch champion, and we’re ready and eager to deliver these missions for BlackSky in the weeks to come.
Sadly, Rocket Lab won’t be recovering “Without Mission A Beat’s” first stage, and it will be expended into the Pacific Ocean. However, in the coming years, Rocket Lab’s launches will feature an RTLS (Return To Launch Site) landing with the company’s Neutron launch vehicle, but that is still a long way from finishing development.