Rocket Lab lands deal with space mapping company
Kiwi aeropace company Rocket Lab has done a deal with a satellite company whose mission is to image the entire Earth every single day.
San Francisco company Planet already has 100 of its Dove satellites in space, generating data for mapping, measuring global crop yields and providing intelligence for disaster response.
Planet has now signed up for three dedicated launches using Rocket Lab's Electron launch vehicle so it can expand and replenish its satellite fleet.
Planet.com's Dove satellites (Planet.com / supplied)
Rocket Lab is based in Auckland but is building a launch facility on the Mahia Peninsula near Gisborne.
It has yet to test its Electron rocket but the first flights are scheduled for later this year.
Rocket Lab says a launch will cost a total of US$4.9 million and carry up to 150 kilograms of miniature satellites.
Planet and Rocket Lab are part of the push to bring in low cost small satellites, known as CubeSats, into frequent use. CubeSats can be as small as a lunchbox.
Rocket Lab says it will be able to send a 1 unit satellite into space for as little as US$50,000.
The Electron launch vehicle is 16 metres high and only 1.2 metres in diameter, and is powered by the Rutherford engine which has been designed and 3D printed in New Zealand.
Auckland in July 2016 (Planet.com / supplied)