Rocket Lab launches fourth satellite for Japanese Earth-imaging company, Synspective

Rocket Lab’s 45th Electron rocket to date launches on the “Owl Night Long” mission for Synspective. Image: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab launches its third Electron mission of the year and its fourth for Japanese Earth-imaging company, Synspective.

The mission, dubbed “Owl Night Long,” lifted off on March 13 from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex-1 in Mahia, New Zealand, at 4:03 a.m. NZDT (11:03 a.m. EDT, 1503 UTC). This was the 45th Electron rocket to launch to date.

It sent the StriX-3 satellite into an orbit 561 km above the Earth’s surface at a 97-degree inclination. It’s the latest in the StriX-series of satellites, which are synthetic aperture radar (SAR) spacecraft. It allows them to observe the Earth’s surface regardless of weather or day light.

Rocket Lab previously launched the following missions on behalf of Synspective:

  • Dec. 15, 2020 – The Owl’s Night Begins (StriX-α)
  • Feb. 15, 2022 – The Owl’s Night Continues (StriX- β)
  • Sept. 14, 2022 – The Owl Spreads its Wings (StriX-1)

The most recent mission carried the 300th Rutherford engine and became the 150th satellite launched by Rocket Lab. The Electron is a two-stage rocket that stands 18 meters (59 feet) tall.

As it prepares for this launch, Rocket Lab is also working towards its first launch of the year from NASA’s Wallops Flight Center in Virginia. That mission, NROL-123, will mark the first time that a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) will launch from Wallops.