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Rocket Lab to launch dedicated mission for Japanese space industry start-up

Stephen Kuper

US and New Zealand-based Rocket Lab has signed a deal with Japanese satellite company Synspective to launch a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite in late 2020.

Rocket Lab to launch dedicated mission for Japanese space industry start-up
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Synspective’s StriX-α satellite will be launched on an Electron launch vehicle as a dedicated mission from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand.

The satellite will be the first in Synspective’s planned StriX constellation of around 25 SAR satellites designed to provide geospatial solutions. SAR satellites actively observe and acquire Earth surface information by transmitting and receiving reflected microwaves.

Compared with optical satellites, which rely on sunlight reflection, SAR can capture images of the ground surface in all weather conditions and at any time of the day or night.

With the StriX constellation, Synspective aims to equip companies, governments, and research organizations with high-quality and user-friendly information data that can be used for urban development planning, construction and infrastructure monitoring, and disaster response. 

The StriX-α satellite will be the sole payload on the Electron launch vehicle for this mission, giving Synspective the ability to select the exact orbit, launch site, and launch timing that best suits the company’s needs. 

Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck welcomed the collaboration, stating, “We’re delighted to welcome Synspective to Electron, and we’re honoured to be play such a pivotal role in the development of the StriX constellation.

“We understand just how important it is to have control over your orbit and your launch schedule when building out a constellation, so we’re proud to be delivering that capability to Synspective on Electron.”  

Synspective founder and CEO Dr Motoyuki Arai reinforced Beck’s comments, saying, “We are very pleased to work with Rocket Lab, a pioneer in rocket ventures. We are also grateful for their flexibility in accepting our requests on the satellite’s orbit and launch period.

“This year, we will launch our first satellite as well as our SAR data solutions. With this launch, we are taking a very important step towards establishing Synspective's one-stop service.”

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