RL-4

“Look Ma No Hands”

Mission at-a-glance:

  • Customers: BlackSky, United States Air Force Space Command
  • Launch Vehicle: Rocket Lab Electron
  • Launch Location: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
  • Orbit: 540km x 540km
  • Total spacecraft: 3

This mission, called “Look Ma, No Hands” by Rocket Lab, represented Spaceflight’s second of several launches scheduled with Rocket Lab in 2019, and followed the launch of seven spacecraft on its inaugural “Make it Rain” mission with Rocket Lab in late June from Launch Complex 1 at the southern tip of Mahia Peninsula, on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

Spacecraft on the mid-inclination mission included:

BlackSky’s Global-4, a microsatellite class Earth-imaging system, was developed, designed, and manufactured by BlackSky, a leading provider of geospatial intelligence, satellite imaging, and global monitoring services. Like its predecessors (Global-1, -2, and -3) already on orbit, Global-4 provides 1-meter resolution color imagery, building upon the constellation’s objective of providing a fast revisit rate critical for organizations detecting and monitoring changes in locations of interest around the world. Global-4 was the company’s second satellite in the BlackSky constellation deployed to an inclined orbit and works in conjunction with Global-3 to demonstrate the initial high revisit rate service. Global-4 also introduced some significant capability upgrades to the satellite including a “green” water-based propellant system.

United States Air Force Space Command’s “Pearl White” was an Air Force Space Command demonstration program whose goal was to design, develop, launch and operate two 6U cubesat experimental spacecraft as an on-orbit testbed for emerging technologies in 2019. The demonstration tested new technologies including propulsion, power, communications, and drag capabilities for potential applications on future spacecraft.  The two cubesats were built by Tiger Innovations Inc., who operate the spacecraft for the life of the program under the direction and oversight of AFSPC.

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