Last month, the Planet team successfully integrated one of our Dove satellites into a Rocket Lab Maxwell deployer to be flown on the 2nd orbital flight (aka “Still Testing”) of Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle. The launch is currently scheduled for December of this year and the rocket will drop off the Dove into a 300 x 500 km, 83 degree inclination orbit.
This Dove has been officially designated “Dove Pioneer,” and the name has several points of significance for us. On the one hand, it’s a nod to the awe-inspiring series of Pioneer missions conducted by NASA in the 50s, 60s and 70s. There is often a lot of buzz about NewSpace and how small satellites and small launch vehicles are changing the industry, but we owe a great deal of our success to the amazing space pioneers that preceded us. We stand on the shoulders of giants.
On the other hand, Planet and Rocket Lab really are on the precipice of pioneering something historic in the space industry. Planet has been launching and operating record-breaking numbers of satellites for the last several years, and Rocket Lab is at the forefront of providing low-cost, frequent, and mission-tailored access to space, further enabling game-changing small satellite architectures such as Planet’s.
Our brave Dove Pioneer will be on the first Rocket Lab launch to carry commercial payloads, paving the way for more missions to come. Stay tuned to @planetlabs and @rocketlab on Twitter for further mission updates.