Rocket Lab has signed another customer for its maiden commercial launch.
The Kiwi-American company has inked a deal with Internet of Things (IoT) start-up Fleet Space Technologies to launch two "cubesats" or "nano-satellites", Proxima I and Proxima II, that will form the first of a fleet of more than 100 small, low-cost satellites that will provide internet connectivity for millions of sensor devices based in remote locations on Earth.
Combined with Fleet's ground stations, the Proxima cubesats will fill gaps in cellular network coverage, allowing sensors used in mining, logistics, agriculture and other industries to connect to the internet.
The satellites have been added to the manifest for Rocket Lab's upcoming mission, 'It's Business Time', scheduled for launch in November from Rocket Lab's Launch Complex-1 on New Zealand's Māhia Peninsula.
They join the current It's Business Time payloads of two Spire Global Lemur-2 satellites (used for weather and tracking shipping traffic); the Irvine CubeSat STEM Program IRVINE01 educational CubeSat; NABEO, a drag sail technology demonstrator designed and built by High Performance Space Structure Systems; and a GeoOptics satellite built by Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems.
Rocket Lab boss Peter Beck said Fleet Space Technologies is one of the key leaders in Australia's emerging commercial space industry. "Fleet's planned constellation of more than 100 satellites will enable greater connectivity across the globe and provide better access to data about our planet."
The Auckland-based Rocket Lab won Fleet's business in part because it's new Auckland assembly plant's focus on making it fast and easy for a customer's satellite to loaded to one of its Electron rockets.
Fleet Space Technologies chief executive Flavia Tata Nardini said, "We decided to build and launch two more satellites over the past few months and Rocket Lab has moved at the speed of light to incorporate them in this mission, assist us with licensing and complete integration in record time. We will be in space less than few months after making the decision to join the mission. This rapid turnaround time is what the space industry really needs now."