Rocket Lab and iQPS Join Forces for Launch of QPS-SAR-5 on Electron

By Sophia Francise

August 19, 2023

Today, Rocket Lab USA, Inc. announced it had signed a deal to launch an Earth observation satellite on Electron for the Institute for Q-shu Pioneers of Space, Inc. (iQPS).

“This is exactly the kind of mission Electron was designed for and has delivered on time and time again – a customer urgently seeking dedicated launch to a unique orbit on a rapid timeline. We’re delighted to deliver that capability to our new partners at iQPS and keep their mission on schedule,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. 

Japan’s TsukuyomiSpace Mission

iQPS, a Japan-based Earth imaging company, was initially manifested on another launch vehicle, but iQPS has now selected Rocket Lab to launch QPS-SAR-5 on a dedicated Electron mission to expedite the deployment.

The launch, scheduled for lift-off in September 2023, will carry iQPS’s QPS-SAR-5 satellite named “TSUKUYOMI-I” into orbit on a dedicated Electron mission from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand.1

The mission has been named “The Moon God Awakens” to acknowledge Tsukuyomi, the Japanese God of the Moon.

QPS-SAR-5 is a synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite that will join a constellation after QPS-SAR-6 is already in orbit. 

iQPS’s satellites are small, high-performance SAR satellites that use a lightweight, large, stowable antenna to collect high-resolution images of Earth, even through clouds and adverse weather conditions.

Ultimately, the iQPS constellation is planned to have 36 satellites capable of monitoring specific fixed points on Earth every 10 minutes.

In addition to being launched by Electron, the QPS-SAR-5 satellite will use Rocket Lab’s Mark II Motorized Lightband (MLB) as its separation system, demonstrating the Company’s vertically integrated space systems strategy.

“We are very pleased to announce the new launch plan for QPS-SAR-5 following the successful QPS-SAR-6 launch in June, despite the delay due to status changes since our announcement of the contract for QPS-SAR-5 in May last year. We highly appreciate Rocket Lab and our team for all their efforts in arranging this new launch contract as it is very meaningful for us to quickly deploy the satellites into orbit and build a 36-QPS-SAR constellation that will enable near real-time observation almost anywhere in the world which we are aiming for. We believe that this collaboration with Rocket Lab for QPS-SAR-5 will evolve our SAR image data services and expand our business,” said iQPS CEO Dr. Shunsuke Onishi 

References

  1. Rocket Lab, ‘Rocket Lab Inks Dedicated Launch Deal with Japanese Earth Imaging Company iQPS’, 17 August 2023, https://www.rocketlabusa.com/updates/rocket-lab-inks-dedicated-launch-deal-with-japanese-earth-imaging-company-iqps/[]
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