Main Engine Cut Off

Synspective Switches from Vega Rideshare to Rocket Lab Dedicated Flight

The year was 2016. United Launch Alliance needed to stoke some contracts, because they had fewer payloads to fly than years gone by.

Their solution was RapidLaunch™ and you better not forget to put the TM because their solution was so good people were going to steal the damn name.

The idea was to take available launch vehicles and sell them at a premium to customers that need a ride in a hurry. Maybe they were shifting from a delayed dedicated or shared ride, or maybe they had a replacement or otherwise highly-time-sensitive spacecraft to launch.

The only potential RapidLaunch™ sale I could ever track down was maybe a Cygnus flight for OA-7.

Turns out, talking about your service isn’t enough to make it attractive.

What you have to do is fly consistently and reliably at an affordable price. Customers will notice, and it sure looks like Synspective noticed Rocket Lab:

Rocket Lab said it signed a contract with Synspective to launch the StriX-α SAR satellite on an Electron rocket from New Zealand in late 2020. Terms of the launch contract were not disclosed.

One year earlier, though, Synspective announced a launch contract with Arianespace for the StriX-α spacecraft. At the time, the spacecraft was slated to fly as a rideshare payload on a Vega launch in 2020. That schedule looked to be in doubt, though, because of delays caused by a Vega launch failure in July 2019. The Vega was scheduled to return to flight in March, but that mission has been delayed indefinitely after the closure of the spaceport in French Guiana by the French government due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s pretty rapid.