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SMi MilSatCom USA 2020  Satellite Communications Technology

Rocket Lab and York Space Systems team up to develop rapid response launch capability

(16 April 2018 - York Space Systems) US orbital launch provider Rocket Lab and spacecraft platform developer York Space Systems have entered into an MOU to develop a universal Interface Control Document (ICD) and supporting Concepts of Operations (CONOPS) that will streamline the manifesting process for small satellite launch customers.

By removing the time spent in not only selecting a bus and follow on launch provider, but also developing the standard products that are required to get a spacecraft program off the pad, Rocket Lab and York are setting up a framework to shorten the integration process required for York spacecraft on the Electron Launch Vehicle.

Currently, typical mission integration campaigns can take many months, consisting of requirements development and verification. This adds additional lead time on top of that required for regulatory approvals. By creating standard launch integration products that have already established the compatibility of a York bus on an Electron launcher, many months of mission integration can be eliminated. Standard interfaces, requirements and capabilities will be pre-verified the day a customer signs a contract to launch a York bus on Electron. Rocket Lab and York will also define a standard set of optional services and enhancements that are available to York and its customers, further simplifying the launch process.

Both Rocket Lab and York have developed innovative solutions to enable a responsive space model that offers rapid, repeatable access to orbit. For Rocket Lab this is the Electron, the world’s fully carbon composite launch vehicle powered by 3D printed, electric turbopump-fed engines. For York it’s the S-CLASS platform, a 3-axis stabilized spacecraft capable of supporting 85kg payloads with up to 100w of orbit average power. Much like Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle, the S-CLASS is designed for mass manufacture and supports a wide range of missions including Earth observation, weather, and communication.

Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck says the combination of York’s standard satellite bus offering and Rocket Lab’s operational Electron launch vehicle makes for a disruptive offering to the market in the form of rapid launch manifesting and significant reductions in cost lowering the barriers to entry for whole new generations of data collection and analytics solutions.

“Sending a satellite to orbit used to mean commissioning a large, one-off spacecraft that required a purpose-built payload adapter and often a tailored launch vehicle. By developing an optional standardized launch vehicle and bus ICD we can radically reduce the customer costs and speed up the manifesting process to get satellites on orbit faster,” says Mr. Beck.

“Part of York’s mission is to streamline the process for companies to get into space,” said Dirk Wallinger, CEO of York Space Systems. “To be able to join forces with Rocket Lab is a crucial step for us as a company. Together, we look forward to helping deliver these initiatives and move the needle forward for small sat launches of the future.”

The non-exclusive MOU will see Rocket Lab and York Space Systems perform work in support of future launch contracts. With monthly and weekly launches planned by Rocket Lab, York is well-positioned to meet this demand through its cutting-edge production processes and real-time availability, without which, rapid and affordable launches of satellites is not possible.

About Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab’s mission is to revolutionize the way we access space by developing and launching advanced rockets to put small payloads into orbit frequently and at a fraction of the cost of cumbersome traditional launch services. On January 21 2018, Rocket Lab reached orbit with the launch of the Electron vehicle and successfully deployed the company’s first commercial payloads. It marked a significant milestone in eliminating commercial barriers and ushering in a new era of unprecedented access to space. Founded in 2006 by Peter Beck, Rocket Lab is headquartered in Los Angeles with operations and a launch site in New Zealand. It is a privately funded company with investors including Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, DCVC (Data Collective), Lockheed Martin, Promus Ventures and K1W1.

About York Space Systems

York Space Systems was founded to radically improve spacecraft affordability and reliability, transforming and enabling next generation space mission operations worldwide. Today, it is one of the most innovative aerospace companies, specializing in both end-to-end customer solutions and the manufacture of spacecraft platforms in Denver. York’s S-CLASS industrial-grade platform is a standardized 3-axis stabilized spacecraft capable of supporting 85kg payloads with up to 100W of Orbit Average Power (OAP) and 3,000W peak (Enhanced power system), while reducing the cost of manufacture by an order of magnitude. The S-CLASS spacecraft is fully compatible with all launch vehicles, including ground and air-launched, and ground segment providers. When optioned with York’s cloud-based mission tasking and operations center, an ultra-low-cost solution is available on demand for next generation data collection and analytics companies.