Rocket Lab has deployed the Japanese radar imaging satellite

Rocket Lab is ending the year with the first satellite deployment for a Japanese satellite operator that just entered the space industry. The Electron rocket departed Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand at 5 a.m before deploying the payload into its orbit about an hour after takeoff. The Synspective StriX-a satellite’s extra-wide body forced the company to customize payload-covering to ensure the satellite remains in shape aboard the rocket. The satellite will be the first to mark the Synspective constellation initiation that garnered $100 million in the best part of last year. The spacecraft can produce synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery with high resolution. This payload will follow with the StriX-β demonstration payload next year. The company intends to have a constellation with not less than 30 satellites. 

Initially, Synspective had penned the contract with Arianespace to deploy the satellite via the Vega rocket. However, the company rescheduled the contract choosing to work with Rocket Lab for the satellite after the Vega deployment mission failing to kick-off due to a previous failure. The company intends to utilize the Arianespace opportunity to launch another satellite. The CEO and founder of Synspective, Motoyuki Arai, explained that the launch of the StriX-a would reveal the company’s satellite potential and data analysis technology. He reiterated that this would be the first mark leading to the development of a 30 satellite constellation and the commercialization of their business through expansion. 

The launch of this satellite by Rocket Lab became the 17th for the Electron rocket since its development. On the other hand, it was the 7th for the rocket this year, leaving the company with a deficit of five missions to achieve the 12th mark that is set for this year. The first deployment this year was for the National Reconnaissance Office satellite at the beginning of the year. The coronavirus pandemic interfered with Rocket Lab’s launch activities in March when it was ready to deploy the second mission. This mission was postponed to June when the company deployed the NRO payload and university satellites. 

The following month the company witnessed a drawback when the Electron rocket hosting payloads for Planet and In-Space Missions and Canon Electronics ended disastrously. Nevertheless, the company discovered a mismatched electrical connection in the upper stage of the rocket engineered the failure. After some weeks, the company revived its reputation by deploying a SAR satellite for Capella Space and its first Photon satellite. The company managed to retrieve its rocket’s first booster last year. However, according to the company’s report, the StriX-a mission was not intended for retrieving the first stage. 

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