Rocket Lab reveals it also launched its own satellite on August 30th


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Capitalism in space: Rocket Lab today revealed that along with placing a customer’s commercial radar satellite into orbit on August 30th, it also launched the prototype of its own satellite during the Electron rocket launch.

The company calls its satellites Photons, but rather than number them it will give each their own name. This particular satellite has been dubbed “First Light.”

The satellite is primarily a technology demonstrator, a way to test Photon’s systems in orbit and show customers what the spacecraft is capable of. First Light will stay up for the next five or six years, if all goes according to plan, Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said during a teleconference with reporters today (Sept. 3).

Photon should be attractive to a variety of customers, allowing them to focus on their sensors and other instruments without having to worry about building and operating an entire spacecraft, Rocket Lab representatives have said.

The goal is to offer this smallsat as a platform to those who wish to launch an instrument into space but don’t want to spend the money building the satellite itself. The company also intends to use a Photon satellite for a science mission to Venus in 2023.

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3 comments

  • Richard M

    There has been a lot of good news in Capitalism in Space this week, but in some ways, this story is the most heartwarming of all. Hats off to Peter Beck for taking a gamble on this. I hope we shall see many more such gambles.

  • Jollster

    Agree. This is a great example of seeing an opportunity arise that compliments their current business. This gives a potential customer a further reason to choose them, rather than another upcoming assortment of smallsat launchers. Value adding will improve longevity.

  • Matthew

    Really great idea good way to make some cash. Just have the frame and the pulg and play instruments. I wonder if they would sell me one with cameras so I could look at my backyard from space. I’d be able to photograph the rest of the world too. Would they sell it to me if I had the money as a Private citizen? Soon it might be so. Could I change the orbit from my smartphone to be at a certain place at a certain time. Perhaps in the app you need to schedule it so many days out for that orbit opportunity. See your level of fuel with a battery icon. If I had the money and money was no issue why not.

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