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Rocket Lab Announces Date, Payloads for Satellite Rideshare Launch

The mission patch for Rocket Lab's "Make it Rain" mission. The vehicle is set to launch in June from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand.
The mission patch for Rocket Lab's "Make it Rain" mission. The vehicle is set to launch in June from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand.
(Image: © Rocket Lab)

Space launch startup Rocket Lab has announced a launch date  for several spacecraft on behalf of Spaceflight, a satellite rideshare company. Rocket Lab has also specified which satellite payloads will be hitching a ride.

The mission is nicknamed "Make It Rain" due to the amount of rainfall in both Seattle (Spaceflight's headquarters) and New Zealand (where the launch site is located), according to a statement from Rocket Lab.

The rocket will launch in June from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula, Rocket Lab announced today (May 10) in the statement. Satellites on board include BlackSky's Global-4, two U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Prometheus spacecraft and Melbourne Space Program's ACRUX-1. The mission would be the seventh to use Rocket Lab's Electron rocket.

"This exciting mission with Spaceflight demonstrates the new level of freedom now offered to small satellite operators thanks to Electron," Peter Beck, Rocket Lab's founder and CEO, said in the statement. "Rocket Lab puts small satellite operators in charge, offering an unmatched level of control over launch schedule. Thanks to Electron's Kick Stage, we also deliver the kind of precision orbital deployment normally reserved for a prime [satellite]." 

A prime satellite is usually the primary and largest satellite on the rocket; satellites that Spaceflight offers spots for tend to be secondary satellites, which often launch in trajectories similar to the prime satellite, instead of independently.

This launch maintains Rocket Lab's streak of scheduling, on average, one launch per month, representatives said in the statement. The firm also plans to begin using a second launch site, Launch Complex 2, at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia; the first launch at this new site will be later this year.

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