Rocket Lab successfully launched its Electron rocket from New Zealand on 15th December, marking its first launch since September. The rocket carried the QPS-SAR-5, or Tsukuyomi-1 satellite, developed by the Japanese company iQPS. The satellite reached orbit approximately 57 minutes after liftoff from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1.
The Tsukuyomi-1 satellite is part of iQPS’s efforts to create quasi-real-time maps using small SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellites. The satellite will be part of a 36-satellite constellation designed to monitor fixed points on Earth every 10 minutes.
This launch is significant for Rocket Lab as it marks their 10th Electron rocket flight this year, surpassing their previous record of nine launches in 2022. Peter Beck, the CEO of Rocket Lab, expressed his excitement about the achievement and stated that they are looking forward to an even busier year of launches in 2024.
The successful launch comes after a setback in September when the second stage of the rocket appeared to shut down after separating from the first stage during another mission. Rocket Lab has since resolved the issue and resumed its launch operations.
iQPS CEO Shunsuke Onishi expressed gratitude to the Rocket Lab team for arranging the launch opportunity that aligned perfectly with their desired orbit. He also commended his team for working tirelessly to meet the tight timeline.
Overall, this launch demonstrates Rocket Lab’s position as a leading small launch vehicle globally and highlights their commitment to providing reliable and frequent access to space for their customers.