Rocket Lab will implement an entire constellation of IoT satellites for a French start-up under a multi-launch deal which made the announcement on 8th September.
Rocket Lab says it will launch 25 satellites for Kinéis. This is over five devoted launches starting in quarter 2 of 2023. The satellites will offer better global IoT connectivity services for the company. It is backed by private investors and the French space agency CNES. CNES raises 100 million euros in early 2020 in order to produce the constellation.
Alexandre is the chief executive of Kinéis and says the following –
- “We are happy to entrust our constellation of 25 satellites to Rocket Lab,”
- He calls Rocket Lab “the apparent selection as launch partner to initiate our constellation at such a pace.”
Peter Beck is the chief executive of Rocket Lab. Peter says in a recent phone interview that the plan for installing the full constellation will be contingent on when the satellites are ready.
- “It is a constellation, so the customer generally wants to get them up fast.”
- “Our launch pace is determined by our customers’ commitment and capability to deliver the spacecraft.”
The businesses did not disclose the value of the launch contract. Beck says there is “some discount” for bulk buys like this against acquisitions of individual launches.
The Kinéis deal is the second multi-launch contract for a constellation Rocket Lab has announced this year. In March, Rocket Lab announces a contract including launches of eight BlackSky imaging satellites, prepared through Rocket Lab.
Beck says that the BlackSky and Kinéis contracts are a validation of the size of the Electron. This is as some bigger vehicles, with payload capabilities of about one metric ton, move into the market. “The one-ton class, I do not see how it fits,” he adds. “It is too large to do these kinds of keen launches that we do all the time. Also, they are too small to be feasible rideshare against the Falcon 9.”
“From day one, we have been very critical and very vicious about what we think the size should be,” he says of the Electron. Which can place up to 300 kilograms into low Earth orbit. “We must have done something right because we are very busy.”
Rocket Lab had intended to start a series of three consecutive Electron launches of BlackSky satellites in late August. That has been behind schedule, Beck says, by COVID restraints in New Zealand. This also includes a lockdown in Auckland. “The pandemic has raised its head, so it makes it very challenging to conduct launch operations,” he adds.