Rocket Lab prepares for back-to-back launches for NASA

Rocket Lab is preparing for back-to-back missions for NASA, which will see them launch twice within three weeks from Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.

The first mission is named Ready, Aim, PREFIRE, with PREFIRE standing for Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment. The first launch will take place on May 22nd, and the second will follow three weeks after the successful deployment of the first launch. The second mission is named PREFIRE and Ice.

This mission will be the first time heat is measured in infrared and far-infrared wavelengths over the polar regions.

The 2 satellites will be deployed into a 525 km Sun-synchronous circular orbit that will crisscross over Artic and Antarctica as they measure infrared and far-infrared wavelengths over the polar regions. Each satellite is a 6U cubesat with a current mission time length of 10 months. These satellites will help scientists better form models to predict changes caused by global warming.

By selecting Rocket Lab to launch these back-to-back missions, NASA is able to get the 2 cubesats to orbit faster by using the dedicated launcher and not having to wait for a rideshare mission on a Falcon 9 or another launch vehicle.

This won’t be Rocket Lab’s first back-to-back mission for NASA. They previously launched the TROPICS mission in May 2023, which also consisted of two launches in one month. Most recently, Rocket Lab launched the Advanced Composite Solar Sail System for NASA on April 24th.

These missions will be Rocket Lab’s 48th and 49th overall and the 6th and 7th of the year.

Rocket Lab has yet to announce if either mission will recover the Electron first stage.

Disclosure: Richard Angle is not an RKLB shareholder.

Questions or comments? Shoot me an email at, or Tweet me @RDAnglePhoto.

Richard Angle: Launch journalist, specializing in launch photography. Based on the Space Coast, a short drive from Cape Canaveral and the SpaceX launch pads.
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