Rocket Lab Initiates First Electron Recovery Mission of 2024

Rocket Lab has successfully launched its first mission of 2024, deploying four satellites for Spire Global and NorthStar Earth & Space. This launch marked the second return-to-flight mission following an incident in late 2021. The Electron rocket took off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, after weather conditions delayed the original mid-January launch schedule.

The mission, named “Four of a Kind”, carried four Space Situational Awareness (SSA) satellites. This was Rocket Lab’s 43rd launch to date. The company also performed a recovery of the first stage booster about 17 minutes into the flight, which landed in the Pacific Ocean and was retrieved by a recovery vessel. This is part of Rocket Lab’s ongoing efforts to reuse its rockets, and in August of last year, the company partially reused a Rutherford engine.

Rocket Lab’s CEO, Peter Beck, expressed his satisfaction with the successful mission and recovery, and mentioned that the company is looking forward to a busy year with more scheduled missions than ever before. The company is dedicated to providing reliable small launch services for its satellite customers.

The four Spire-built satellites were deployed into a 530 km circular Earth orbit by German company Exolaunch. The mission, also known as “NorthStar-1”, marks the start of a planned 24-satellite constellation by NorthStar Earth & Space. The company touts this as the “first-ever SSA-satellite-as-a-service constellation”.

With the launch of these satellites, NorthStar aims to provide continuous monitoring of nearby objects and satellites, offering early detection and warning of safety and security-related phenomena. Stewart Bain, CEO and Founder of NorthStar, expressed pride in his team for this significant achievement and reiterated the company’s commitment to ensuring a sustainable and clean space environment. NorthStar plans to launch the first 12 satellites of this project by 2026.

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