International Astronautical Congress, Washington, D.C., 22 October 2019 – Rocket Lab, the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has partnered with Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT), the world’s largest provider of ground station services, to be the sole provider of ground station services for the Electron launch vehicle and Photon satellite bus customers. The agreement sees Rocket Lab deliver a complete solution for small satellite operators, including satellite design and build, launch, and ground segment support leveraging an existing global network of ground stations.
Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle is currently the only commercial, dedicated small satellite launch vehicle operating a service to orbit, making space more accessible for small satellites. With a proven launch vehicle in operation since January 2018, the next evolution of Rocket Lab’s mission services is the Photon satellite bus. Designed for seamless pairing with Electron, the Photon satellite bus streamlines the entire end-to-end satellite experience for customers from design to build to launch.
Likewise, KSAT’s KSATlite ground network is designed and optimized for small satellite systems, providing streamlined access (through standardized API driven interfaces) and scalable support that grows to meet mission needs.
The closely integrated partnership with KSAT now provides launch to operations ground segment support for Photon customers – the final piece for small satellite operators seeking an end-to-end mission partner. This enables small satellite operators to focus on what really matters—their applications and their customers—freeing engineering time and capital from having to develop a spacecraft platform, secure a launch, and coordinate access to ground stations from different providers.
The partnership between Rocket Lab and KSAT provides Photon customers downlink and uplink capabilities in UHF, S-band, X-band, and Ka-band across a global ground station network of over 200 antennas that supports 50,000 contacts per month.
Rocket Lab Chief Executive and founder, Peter Beck, says, “Rocket Lab’s partnership with KSAT will play an important role in continuing to streamline the path to orbit for small satellite operators. We solved the launch challenge when Rocket Lab began regular and reliable launch services in January 2018. Now we’re simplifying the spacecraft side of the equation with the combination of Photon and KSAT’s ground network support.”
Head of KSAT USA, Katherine Monson, says, “We are witnessing an enormous rise in demand for data from small satellites in space, yet the challenges of procuring launch, building your own spacecraft and then having to coordinate ground communications can be time and cost prohibitive. Our partnership with Rocket Lab and its Photon customers means small satellite operators will now have access to reliable, scalable services across our global network – starting with support on a per-pass basis and options to move to full antennas as their communication demand grows. KSAT is proud to be the bridge back to Earth for both the Electron launch vehicle and Photon customer payloads. Together we are hoping to make space more accessible, through cost-efficient access and proven mission assurance.”
About Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab is the world’s leading dedicated small satellite launch provider. Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab provides end-to-end mission services, including complete satellite build and launch solutions, that provide rapid, frequent and reliable access to space. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, Rocket Lab has delivered 40 satellites to orbit on the Electron launch vehicle, enabling operations in space debris mitigation, Earth observation, ship and airplane tracking, and radio communications. Headquartered in Huntington Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the Electron launch vehicle and Photon satellite platform. Electron is a full carbon-composite launch vehicle tailored for small satellites. Photon is a complete spacecraft bus solution that can be tailored for a range of missions. Together Electron and Photon offer an all-inclusive spacecraft build and launch service for Rocket Lab customers. Rocket Lab operates launch sites in Māhia, New Zealand and Wallops Island, Virginia. To learn more, visit www.rocketlabusa.com.
Photon is Rocket Lab’s in-house designed and built satellite platform. Photon is an advanced evolution of the Rocket Lab Kick Stage. Operating a high-powered iteration of the flight-proven 3D printed Curie propulsion system, Photon can support missions with up to a five year on-orbit life span. Equipped with an S-band communication system, a high-fidelity attitude control system, and a robust avionics suite, Photon is the complete spacecraft solution for a range of LEO and beyond missions, from constellation development, through to technology demonstrations and hosted payloads.
KSAT is the world-leading provider of communication services for spacecraft and launch vehicles. Supporting 50,000 satellite passes a month, its extensive global network of over 200 antennas at over 23 global locations, (including Pole to Pole coverage from Antarctica to the Arctic), ensures 24/7, responsive access to spacecraft telemetry, data, and communications.