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  • Satellite Evolution Group

Rocket Lab to launch space object monitoring mission for Spire Global & NorthStar

Rocket Lab USA, announced that it has signed a dedicated launch deal with Spire Global to deliver its first four Space Situational Awareness (SSA) satellites to low Earth orbit for its Space Services customer NorthStar Earth & Space.

The dedicated mission on Electron will deploy the satellites to a 530km circular orbit from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand during a launch window that opens in September 2023. To meet NorthStar’s program requirements, Spire has selected Rocket Lab to launch the satellites on an accelerated timeline within five months of contract signing. Spire has previously launched with Rocket Lab on Electron’s first two commercial missions, Still Testing and Its Business Time, in 2018.

NorthStar, headquartered in Montreal, Canada, is the first commercial SSA service provider to actively scan and monitor space from space. NorthStar's block of four satellites, built and operated by Spire, will be the first to simultaneously monitor all near-Earth orbits from space, delivering a radically enhanced level of SSA services to the global satellite community, with timely and precise information for space object detection, tracking, orbit determination, collision avoidance, navigation, and proximity alerts.

Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck, said: “As with all satellite constellations, the precise placement of the first satellites for a particular mission is critical to the constellation’s future success. With Electron’s agility, reliability, and proven precision to place satellites exactly where they need to go, dedicated missions like this one for Spire and NorthStar are our bread and butter. Space debris is a global issue and the responsibility of all space users, so it’s great to be supporting a mission with a focus on making Earth’s orbit safer for everyone.”

This mission was originally manifested to launch with a now defunct launch provider but has been added to Rocket Lab’s 2023 launch manifest to provide an expedited launch, demonstrating Rocket Lab’s proven flexible and responsive launch capability.

Stewart Bain, CEO of NorthStar said: "With the untimely setback in launch services, maintaining NorthStar’s plan to launch this year had presented an exceptional challenge. But we are confident that we have found an excellent, proven launch specialist in Rocket Lab. We recognize the highly effective effort from both Spire Global and Rocket Lab to preserve our plans to make a meaningful contribution to the safety and sustainability of space by launching our unique services this fall.”

Frank Frulio, general manager of Spire Space Services, said: “We developed the Space as a Service model to take the previously prohibitive cost, complexity, and risk out of the equation. This allows innovative companies like NorthStar to develop and deploy cutting edge solutions from the vantage point of space, focusing on solving some of the most significant problems we face today. Rocket Lab offers the flexibility of a dedicated launch that meets the requirements of NorthStar's mission, giving us the ability to launch the satellites on our timeline and to the exact orbit needed.”

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