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Rocket Lab Sets Mission Turnaround Record With BlackSky Launch 

By Rachel Jewett | March 24, 2023

      Rocket Lab launches “The Beat Goes On” mission for BlackSky from New Zealand on March 24. Photo: Rocket Lab

      Rocket Lab set a new record for turnaround time between missions after it launched two Electron missions seven days apart from two different hemispheres. 

      Rocket Lab completed a successful mission for customer BlackSky late Friday night in New Zealand, launching an Electron rocket at 10:14 p.m. local time, 5:14 a.m. EDT. This mission was seven days after the company’s second launch from its new launch complex in Virginia, setting a new company record for fastest turnaround between Electron missions. That March 16 mission deployed two spacecraft for Capella Space

      “Electron has repeatedly proven itself as a reliable constellation builder,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “Launching two successful missions just seven days apart from two different hemispheres is a real demonstration of responsive space in action.” 

      Friday’s mission, named “The Beat Goes On,” deployed two of BlackSky’s multi-spectral Gen-2 satellites to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), organized by launch services provider Spaceflight, Inc. BlackSky is a long-time Rocket Lab customer and this was its seventh mission with the launcher. 

      Rocket Lab also executed an ocean splashdown of the Electron first stage used in the mission, as part of its work toward reusability. The launcher is working to hit 15 missions this year after completing nine launches in 2022. 

      For BlackSky, the mission came just after it won a study contract from the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) for hyperspectral imagery. The NRO will use the study contracts, awarded to six companies, to explore the potential of commercial hyperspectral imagery.