Rocket Lab partners with Kongsberg for support services

Stephen Kuper

New Zealand-based Rocket Lab has announced a partnership with Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) to provide ground station support for Electron and Photon systems.

Rocket Lab partners with Kongsberg for support services
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The agreement sees Rocket Lab deliver a complete solution for small satellite operators, including satellite design and build, launch and ground segment support, leveraging an existing global network of ground stations.

Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle is currently the only commercial, dedicated small satellite launch vehicle operating a regular service to orbit, making space more accessible for small satellites.

With a proven launch vehicle in operation since January 2018, the next evolution of Rocket Lab’s mission services is the Photon satellite bus.

Designed for seamless pairing with Electron, the Photon satellite bus streamlines the entire end-to-end satellite experience for customers from design to build to launch.

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Likewise, KSAT’s KSATlite ground network is designed and optimised for small satellite systems, providing streamlined access (through standardised API driven interfaces) and scalable support that grows to meet mission needs.

Rocket Lab chief executive and founder Peter Beck said, "Rocket Lab’s partnership with KSAT will play an important role in continuing to streamline the path to orbit for small satellite operators. We solved the launch challenge when Rocket Lab began regular and reliable launch services in January 2018."

The closely integrated partnership with KSAT now provides launch to operations ground segment support for Photon customers – the final piece for small satellite operators seeking an end-to-end mission partner.

"We solved the launch challenge when Rocket Lab began regular and reliable launch services in January 2018. Now we’re simplifying the spacecraft side of the equation with the combination of Photon and KSAT’s ground network support," Beck added. 

Head of KSAT USA Katherine Monson explained, "We are witnessing an enormous rise in demand for data from small satellites in space, yet the challenges of procuring launch, building your own spacecraft and then having to coordinate ground communications can be time and cost prohibitive.

This enables small satellite operators to focus on what really matters – their applications and their customers – freeing engineering time and capital from having to develop a spacecraft platform, secure a launch, and co-ordinate access to ground stations from different providers.

"Our partnership with Rocket Lab and its Photon customers means small satellite operators will now have access to reliable, scalable services across our global network – starting with support on a per-pass basis and options to move to full antennas as their communication demand grows," Monson added. 

The partnership between Rocket Lab and KSAT provides Photon customers downlink and uplink capabilities in UHF, S-band, X-band and Ka-band across a global ground station network of over 200 antennas that supports 50,000 contacts per month.

"KSAT is proud to be the bridge back to Earth for both the Electron launch vehicle and Photon customer payloads. Together we are hoping to make space more accessible, through cost-efficient access and proven mission assurance," Monson said. 

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