Presenter Information

Lars Hoffman, Rocket LabFollow

Session

Technical Session VIII: Space Access

Location

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Abstract

Rocket Lab is a space technology company and the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch. Founded in 2006 by CEO Peter Beck, Rocket Lab’s mission is to make space accessible by offering frequent, reliable, and affordable small satellite launch services. With a record of 11 launches since May 2017 and as at 06 June 2020, the company has delivered 48 satellites to orbit with 100% mission success for government customers including NASA, DARPA, the NRO and the United States Air Force, as well as many commercial small satellite providers. With regular and reliable dedicated launch opportunities now operating on Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle, no longer are small satellites forced to fly as secondary payloads with little control over orbit and launch schedule. While Electron’s launch success to date represents significantly improved space access for small satellites, Rocket Lab is developing new systems and infrastructure to further increase launch cadence, provide more launch opportunities, and ensure resiliency in orbit for small satellites. With the growth and increasing reliance on small satellite constellations, the ability to deploy new satellites to precise orbits in a matter of hours, not months or years, is critical to small satellite operators. Rocket Lab already operates Launch Complex-1 in New Zealand, the only privately-owned and operated orbital launch site in the world, licensed by the FAA for 120 launches per year. The company also recently completed development of a U.S. launch site, Launch Complex-2, located at NASA Wallops, that can support 12 launches per year, with the first mission from the site to occur in 2020. Construction is now underway on a third launch pad, located at Launch Complex 1, that will reduce turnaround time between launches and enable Rocket Lab to conduct parallel launch campaigns simultaneously from the one launch complex. In addition to launch sites that enable frequent launch opportunities, Rocket Lab has made significant progress towards making Electron a reusable launch vehicle, a development that will further increase launch frequency by eliminating the need to build a new Electron first stage for every mission. Because access to space is more than just launch vehicles and pads, Electron is also introducing an all-inclusive spacecraft build and launch service that enables small satellite customers to focus on delivering their service from orbit and generating revenue, rather than building their own satellite hardware. This paper summarizes Rocket Lab’s launch successes and technical achievements of the past year and examines the developments underway to further improve space accessibility through an increased launch cadence and streamlined small spacecraft hardware development.

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Aug 1st, 12:00 AM

Implementing Responsive and Reliable Access to Space for Small Satellites

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Rocket Lab is a space technology company and the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch. Founded in 2006 by CEO Peter Beck, Rocket Lab’s mission is to make space accessible by offering frequent, reliable, and affordable small satellite launch services. With a record of 11 launches since May 2017 and as at 06 June 2020, the company has delivered 48 satellites to orbit with 100% mission success for government customers including NASA, DARPA, the NRO and the United States Air Force, as well as many commercial small satellite providers. With regular and reliable dedicated launch opportunities now operating on Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle, no longer are small satellites forced to fly as secondary payloads with little control over orbit and launch schedule. While Electron’s launch success to date represents significantly improved space access for small satellites, Rocket Lab is developing new systems and infrastructure to further increase launch cadence, provide more launch opportunities, and ensure resiliency in orbit for small satellites. With the growth and increasing reliance on small satellite constellations, the ability to deploy new satellites to precise orbits in a matter of hours, not months or years, is critical to small satellite operators. Rocket Lab already operates Launch Complex-1 in New Zealand, the only privately-owned and operated orbital launch site in the world, licensed by the FAA for 120 launches per year. The company also recently completed development of a U.S. launch site, Launch Complex-2, located at NASA Wallops, that can support 12 launches per year, with the first mission from the site to occur in 2020. Construction is now underway on a third launch pad, located at Launch Complex 1, that will reduce turnaround time between launches and enable Rocket Lab to conduct parallel launch campaigns simultaneously from the one launch complex. In addition to launch sites that enable frequent launch opportunities, Rocket Lab has made significant progress towards making Electron a reusable launch vehicle, a development that will further increase launch frequency by eliminating the need to build a new Electron first stage for every mission. Because access to space is more than just launch vehicles and pads, Electron is also introducing an all-inclusive spacecraft build and launch service that enables small satellite customers to focus on delivering their service from orbit and generating revenue, rather than building their own satellite hardware. This paper summarizes Rocket Lab’s launch successes and technical achievements of the past year and examines the developments underway to further improve space accessibility through an increased launch cadence and streamlined small spacecraft hardware development.