Rocket Lab intends to conduct payload delivery missions and help expand operational range for small satellite systems.
The company said Monday it plans to utilize the Electron launch vehicle along with the Photon satellite to bring small spacecraft systems to lunar orbit and perform extended-range missions.
Rocket Lab built Photon to support low-Earth orbit and interplanetary missions through the use of deep space communication tools, radiation-tolerant avionics and navigation systems. The company envisions the satellite and Electron to carry out cis-lunar, low and medium-earth orbital missions in 2020.
“Small satellites will play a crucial role in science and exploration, as well as providing communications and navigation infrastructure to support returning humans to the Moon – they play a vital role as pathfinders to retire risk and lay down infrastructure for future missions,” said Peter Beck, founder and CEO at Rocket Lab.