RL-12 Progress: Spacecraft have arrived in New Zealand

Our next launch is coming up soon! Our team and customer payloads have arrived in New Zealand for Rocket Lab’s “The Beat Goes On” mission.

On board RL-12 (our name for the mission, marking our 12th launch with Rocket Lab) are the next two BlackSky Global microsats in their growing constellation. Manufactured by LeoStella and co-engineered with BlackSky, these spacecraft will join their brethren on orbit to continue to deliver on BlackSky’s mission to provide real-time geospatial intelligence. 

Here are a few pics of the integration prep at LeoStella’s state-of-the-art facility in Tukwila, Washington as the teams prepared the spacecraft for shipment.  

Spaceflight’s team: Lisa Middlebrook, Savovo Chhorn, Stephen Rayes and Clayton Doyle.


Final touches on the spacecraft before they were crated for shipment. 

Spacecraft packed for shipment. 

Teamwork ensures smooth, on-time delivery 

The teams from Spaceflight, LeoStella, and BlackSky know the ropes, as we have supported many missions launching from Rocket Lab’s New Zealand launch facility. In fact, our Senior Mission Manager Lisa Middlebrook has been dubbed Spaceflight’s “New Zealand Branch Manager” as she has racked up the frequent flyer miles supporting many of our launches with them. In a twelve month period, Middlebrook spent a total of 130 days (about 4.5 months!) working from there on behalf of BlackSky’s missions. 


One thing we have learned about launching spacecraft: be ready for the unexpected. As our team and the satellites headed to New Zealand, Cyclone Gabrielle decided to cause the country’s third declaration of National Emergency ever. Roads from Auckland to the launch site were washed out and power was out. The team hunkered down in Auckland, and after a few days delay, but then things were back on track. The spacecraft have now made it to the launch site!


“It’s such a pleasure working with BlackSky to launch an entire constellation of an ever-growing Global satellite imaging system,” says Middlebrook. “This effort has spanned six Electron launches as we work with LeoStella, Rocket Lab and BlackSky to prepare the satellites, ship them to New Zealand and do the final integration for launch. We are looking forward to getting these next two spacecraft on orbit!” 

Stay tuned for more information about how to watch the launch of RL-12.



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