Rocket Lab prepares for the ‘Owl Night Long’ mission

Electron shortly before the previous Synspective launch, The Owl Spreads Its Wings (Credit Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab is currently targeting no earlier than Wednesday, March 13th to launch Synspectives’ Strix-3 satellite to a Sun-synchronous orbit from Pad B at  Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.

The 75-minute launch windows open at 03:oo NZDT (14:00 UTC) and the overall launch period runs through the 22nd of March if weather or technical issues prevent a launch on the 13th.

This will be the 4th mission dedicated to deploying Synspectives synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites with the prior missions occurring in December 2020 (The Owl’s Night Begins), February 2022 (The Owl’s Night Continues), and September 2022 (The Owl Spreads Its Wings). Rocket Lab and Synspective announced an expanded contract in 2023 for 6 dedicated launches.

Each satellite weighs ~100 kg (220 lbs) and takes advantage of Rocket Lab’s expanded fairing capability. The satellites are capable of acquiring ground resolution data of 1 to 3 meters along a swath of 10-30 kilometers regardless of weather conditions. Synspective eventually wants a constellation of 30 SAR satellites in orbit by the end of the decade. The current expected lifetime of each satellite is 5 years.

Processing of a Synspective Strix satellite in a Rocket Lab clean room (Credit Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab will not be recovering the Electron first stage during this launch but the company has been using flight-proven Rutherford first-stage engines on various missions but it is currently unknown if this Electron will feature a re-used engine.

This will be the 3rd flight of the year for Rocket Lab with the 4th scheduled for no earlier than March 20th to launch a secretive payload for the National Reconnaissance Office from Wallops, Virginia.

Disclosure: Richard Angle is not an RKLB shareholder.

Questions or comments? How do you think Rocket Lab will do in 2024? Shoot me an email at, or Tweet me @RDAnglePhoto.

Rocket Lab prepares for the ‘Owl Night Long’ mission
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