HawkEye 360, a Virginia-based radio frequency geospatial analytics provider, selected Rocket Lab to launch 15 satellites into low Earth orbit across three missions beginning later this year, the Long Beach rocket manufacturer and launch service provider announced this week.
The first of the three missions will be a rideshare carrying three HawkEye satellites among others. It is slated to be Rocket Lab’s inaugural Electron rocket launch from the firm’s Launch Complex 2 on Wallops Island, Virginia—the company’s first launch on U.S. soil.
Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 is located in New Zealand.
The rideshare mission will launch no earlier than December, the company announced. The remaining two missions—carrying six satellites each—are scheduled to blast off between the first launch and the end of 2024.
“Rocket Lab provides the flexibility we need to fill out our constellation and reach our desired orbits,” HawkEye 360 COO Rob Rainhart said in a statement. “We’re excited to be joining the inaugural launch from Virginia, as a Virginia-based company launching our satellites from our home state.”
Launch Complex 2 is located at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport within NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Rocket Lab has a dedicated pad for its Electron rocket launches.
The firm’s New Zealand launch site includes two pads.
“Operating multiple Electron pads across both hemispheres opens up incredible flexibility for our customers and delivers assured access to space, something we know is becoming increasingly critical as launch availability wanes worldwide,” Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said in a statement.
Planetary Systems Corporation, a Maryland-based space hardware company acquired by Rocket Lab in December 2021, will supply HawkEye 360 with spacecraft separation systems.
The three missions will grow HawkEye’s constellation of radio frequency monitoring satellites, allowing the firm to better provide precise mapping of radio frequency emissions around the world. HawkEye combines this data with its analytical tools and algorithms to provide commercial and government customers with “insights that have helped detect illegal fishing poachers in national parks, GPS radio frequency interference along international borders and emergency beacons in crisis situations.”
The HawkEye contract is the latest in a string of multi-launch agreements for the Long Beach space company, including a five-mission deal with satellite operator and global connectivity provider Kinéis to be launched beginning next year, as well as a three-launch deal with the Earth-imaging company Synspective, the first of which successfully delivered a satellite into orbit in February.