Small satellite launch service provider Rocket Lab has been selected to launch a mission for the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

The mission has been scheduled to take place on 31 January and is called ‘Birds of a Feather’ (NROL-151).

The lift-off for the programme will happen from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand.

This is the first mission of Rocket Lab this year and signifies the company’s potential to offer quick small satellite launch opportunities for the US Government.

Rocket Lab Global Launch Services senior vice-president Lars Hoffman said: “The Electron vehicle is uniquely placed to deliver the kind of frequent, rapidly-acquired launch opportunities required by the NRO and other government agencies to ensure resiliency in space.

“The Electron launch vehicle is perfectly positioned to provide the kind of rapid and responsive access to space that puts the NRO in complete control over their launch schedule and orbital requirements.”

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By GlobalData

The contract has been awarded by NRO under the Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) contract vehicle, which enables the use of a commercial approach to place small satellites in orbits.

Hoffman added: “As the industry shifts toward the disaggregation of large, geostationary spacecraft, Electron enables unprecedented access to space to support a resilient layer of government small satellite infrastructure.”

Rocket Lab launched its first satellite in the orbit in January 2018.