US/New Zealand launch provider Rocket Lab has partnered with Norway-based Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT), who will be the sole provider of ground station services for Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle and Photon satellite bus customers. The agreement will enable Rocket Lab to deliver a complete solution for small satellite operators, including satellite design and build, launch, and ground segment support.
Rocket Lab, which began operating the two-stage Electron small launch vehicle since January 2018, is now entering its next phase, wherein it will provide customers with Photon, a satellite bus tailored exclusively for Electron. The development of Photon, along with the latest partnership with KSAT, will allow the launch startup to streamline the entire end-to-end satellite experience for customers from design to build to launch.
The partnership between Rocket Lab and KSAT provides Photon customers downlink and uplink capabilities in UHF, S-band, X-band, and Ka-band across a global ground station network of over 200 antennas that supports 50,000 contacts per month.
Rocket Lab Chief Executive and Founder, Peter Beck, says, “Rocket Lab’s partnership with KSAT will play an important role in continuing to streamline the path to orbit for small satellite operators. We solved the launch challenge when Rocket Lab began regular and reliable launch services in January 2018. Now we’re simplifying the spacecraft side of the equation with the combination of Photon and KSAT’s ground network support.”
Head of KSAT USA, Katherine Monson, says, “We are witnessing an enormous rise in demand for data from small satellites in space, yet the challenges of procuring launch, building your own spacecraft and then having to coordinate ground communications can be time and cost prohibitive. Our partnership with Rocket Lab and its Photon customers means small satellite operators will now have access to reliable, scalable services across our global network – starting with support on a per-pass basis and options to move to full antennas as their communication demand grows. KSAT is proud to be the bridge back to Earth for both the Electron launch vehicle and Photon customer payloads. Together we are hoping to make space more accessible, through cost-efficient access and proven mission assurance.”