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Rocket Lab enters high frequency launch operations

(30 October 2018 - Rocket Lab) US orbital launch provider Rocket Lab has today confirmed the launch window for the upcoming ‘It’s Business Time’ mission.

The nine-day launch window will open from 11 to 19 November (NZDT), with daily launch opportunities between 16:00 – 20:00 NZDT (03:00 – 07:00 UTC).

The Electron launch vehicle is on site at Launch Complex 1 undergoing final pre-launch checkouts, following a final successful stage one static fire test last week.

As operations for the It’s Business Time launch are underway, Rocket Lab has scaled its team and facilities to enable concurrent operations for the upcoming NASA mission, scheduled to launch in December 2018. The Electron vehicle for NASA’s ELaNa XIX payloads will undergo final stage testing in the coming weeks before delivery to Launch Complex 1 during It’s Business Time launch operations.

Rocket Lab also recently completed two new clean room facilities at Launch Complex 1 to enable payloads for different missions to undergo payload integration simultaneously in separate, secure locations. Each 100k class clean room is equipped with lifting and break-over tools, as well as secure and dedicated customer lounges offering views of payload integration.

The ability to conduct overlapping engine hot fires, full static stage tests, payload integration and launch operations for multiple missions is a key factor in Rocket Lab’s ability to meet a high-frequency launch cadence. Following the opening of Rocket Lab’s latest production facility this month, the company is scaling operations to build, test and launch an Electron every week by the end of 2020.

Rocket Lab Founder and Chief Executive Peter Beck says that while successfully reaching orbit and deploying payloads this year was a significant milestone for the company, transitioning from this to regular, streamlined production and launch operations cements Rocket Lab’s position as leader in the small launch industry.

“This year has been about scaling our team, facilities and processes to enable reliable, high frequency Electron launches to orbit. The ability to build and test multiple vehicles, while operating concurrent launch campaigns, strongly positions Rocket Lab as the industry leader opening access to space for small satellites,” says Mr. Beck.

It’s Business Time mission details:

It’s Business Time will loft six satellites, plus a technology demonstrator, to Low Earth Orbit. The payloads will be launched to a 210 km x 500km parking orbit at 85 degrees, before being circularized to a 500 km x 500 km orbit using Rocket Lab’s Curie engine powered kick stage.

The It's Business Time manifest includes satellites from Spire Global, Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, Fleet Space Technologies, and the Irvine CubeSat STEM Program (ICSP). The mission will also launch a drag sail technology demonstrator designed and built by High Performance Space Structure Systems GmBH (HPS GmbH).