Rocket Lab defers launch of Kleos Scouting Mission

Max Blenkin

ASX-listed space company Kleos’ plans for launch of its first satellites aboard the next Rocket Lab launch from New Zealand have been deferred.

That was planned for August but Rocket Lab has now pushed that launch period out to October. Kleos chief executive Andy Bowyer said Kleos was ready to go but launch was dependent on parties outside its control.

He said due to Rocket Lab’s manifest requirements and their evolving production schedule, the next available launch opportunity had been extended beyond the contracted launch period ending August to no earlier than October.

“We cannot launch without a vehicle,” he said.

“We have been advised that Rocket Lab is doing everything possible to minimise schedule movements and launch the Kleos satellites as quickly as possible.”

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Kleos had planned to launch four eight-kilogram CubeSats into low-Earth orbit as the primary payload aboard the next Rocket Lab Electron launch from New Zealand.

These four satellites will form the Kleos Scouting Mission, the start of an eventual constellation of 20 satellites providing global monitoring of maritime radio frequencies.

 

That allows accurate location of vessels in distress, as well as those not broadcasting automatic identification system (AIS) signals. AIS is the maritime version of aircraft transponder identification systems.

Government agencies can use that information to enhance border and maritime security and safety.

Kleos is based in Luxembourg and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in August last year, raising $11 million to fund its operations.

Bowyer said Kleos was prepared for this as launches were exceptionally complex and often prone to delays.

“Our competent team will use this extra time to expand the number of customer contracts secured, to continue to develop our data products and rapidly progress our second generation satellites,” he said.

“The planned second mission will be focused on delivering enhanced coverage of the Earth closer to the equator, increasing our revenues and our customer base.

“Developing the second-generation satellites at this early stage will allow us to gain advantage following the successful launch of the Scouting Mission and allow us to stay on schedule for the overall business growth.”

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said following six successful orbital missions since January, the company was rapidly scaling production and launch operations to meet growing market demand.

“We look forward to launching Kleos satellites in the coming months as we continue to increase our launch cadence,” he said.

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