Rocket Lab, one of the biggest startups in the NewSpace category of companies providing launch and satellite services, has added satellite manufacturing to the array of services it offers to customers.
The company, which already had developed launch capabilities and has begun sending payloads into space, can now deliver fully built satellites to its customers, according to a statement.
The “Photon” satellite platform was developed so that customers would not have to build their own satellite hardware.
“Small satellite operators want to focus on providing data or services from space, but building satellite hardware is a significant barrier to achieving this,” said Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck, in a statement.
“The time, resources and expertise required to build hardware can draw small satellite operators away from their core purpose, delaying their path to orbit and revenue. As the turn-key solution for complete small satellite missions, Rocket Lab brings space within easy reach. We enable our customers to focus on their payload and mission – we look after the rest.”
The satellites are designed for a range of Low Earth Orbit missions including technology demonstrations, risk reduction pathfinders, constellations, and hosted payloads, the company said in a statement.
The satellites will stay in orbit for five years and include an S-band communication system, high-performance attitude controls, and a set of avionics tools for in-space propulsion and movement.
The new satellites will be manufactured at Rocket Labs’ Huntington Beach, Calif. headquarters and can be launched on the company’s Electron launch platform. The first such launch is scheduled for later in the first quarter of the year, and the company said it would have its first paying customer missions in 2020.