Rocket Lab plans to launch its fourth mission of 2019 in August carrying four satellites for commercial and military customers.
The mission will launch aboard an Electron rocket from the Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand and has been called ‘Look Ma, No Hands’, which follows the provider’s trend of ridiculous mission names. It will carry the first satellite of a planned maritime tracking constellation for UNSEENLABS, a BlackSky Earth observation satellite and two experimental satellites for the United States Air Force.
UNSEENLABS is a French company that hopes to deliver precise and reliable maritime data. The data will allow logistics companies to monitor their own vessels for potential risks from pirates and other forces. In order to supply this data, UNSEENLABS plans to launch a vast network of 6-kilogram Earth observation CubeSats orbiting at an altitude of between 550 and 650 kilometres. The CubeSat set to launch aboard ‘Look Ma, No Hands’ will be the first. It is currently not known if the satellite is just a prototype or the first operational unit.
The three other satellites set to be launched aboard the ‘Look Ma, No Hands’ flight are part of rideshare sold and managed by Spaceflight. It is the second Electron rocket utilised by the company who have used launch vehicles from a number of operators including the SpaceX Falcon 9.
In addition to the second Blacksky Global Earth observation satellite to be launched aboard an Electron rocket, the rideshare also includes two experimental satellites for the United States Air Force. According to a July 22 statement from Rocket Lab, the satellites will “test new technologies including propulsion, power, communications, and drag capabilities for potential applications on future spacecraft.”
The ‘Look Ma, No Hands’ mission, once complete will be Rocket Lab’s eighth overall and fourth for 2019 following the successful “Make It Rain” flight in June. The launch provider has missions scheduled every month for the remainder of the year.