After multiple delays, Rocket Lab successfully launched a second spy satellite into orbit Wednesday night—just three weeks after delivering another.
The mission, dubbed “Antipodean Adventure,” blasted off from Rocket Lab’s New Zealand launch complex at 10 p.m. local time on Wednesday. The firm’s Electron rocket carried and delivered the NROL-199 spy satellite designed, built and operated by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.
“We’re proud to be delivering responsive space capability to the national security community and we’re grateful to the NRO for entrusting us with their missions once again,” Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said in a statement.
Rocket Lab launched a companion satellite, NROL-162, on July 12.
Both missions were in partnership with the Australian Department of Defence.
The two national security missions, combined with Rocket Lab’s successful June 28 NASA moon mission launch, mark a major milestone: three successful missions in just over five weeks, a record launch cadence for the firm.
The turnaround between the NROL-162 and NROL-199 launches was the shortest between national security missions by a small launch provider, the company stated, “setting a new standard in responsive space.”
The time between the two spy satellite missions was slated to be shorter, but “Antipodean Adventure” faced several brief setbacks. The mission first was slated to launch July 22 but was postponed as more preparation was needed on the satellite. High winds on Aug. 1 delayed the flight another couple days.
“Our team is focused on relentless execution for our customers and delivering three successful Electron missions in just over five weeks [is a] testament to this,” Beck said. “That the team delivered two flawless back-to-back national security missions only days after our most complex mission yet, the CAPSTONE mission to the Moon for NASA, is phenomenal.”
U.S. satellite is officially on its way to the moon after successful Rocket Lab mission