[Via Satellite 07-31-2015] Small satellite launch company Rocket Lab has signed a Commercial Space Launch Act Agreement with NASA, enabling the company to use NASA resources such as personnel, facilities and equipment for launch efforts. The partnership opens up the opportunity for Rocket Lab to conduct missions from the space agency’s launch complexes in addition to its primary site in New Zealand.
“While launches from New Zealand can reach inclinations that are generally ideal for small satellites, the addition of a United States launch site will allow customers to have the choice of a wider spectrum of orbital inclinations,” said Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab. “This agreement with NASA is another step in building out our launch ranges globally.”
Use of a NASA range will give Rocket Lab the ability to launch its Electron rocket to lower orbital inclinations than the company’s New Zealand range, which offers inclinations from sun-synchronous through to 45 degrees. The company is planning Electron’s first test flight toward the end of 2015, with commercial operations starting in mid-2016.
“NASA is committed to promoting the continued evolution of the U.S. commercial space launch market,” said Jim Norman, director of launch services at NASA Headquarters. “Our agreement with Rocket Lab USA, Inc. to make NASA’s unique space capabilities and infrastructure available can increase commercial launch options.”
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