Rocket Lab fires a set of satellites into orbit for US military

Following a year with mixed results, 2019 is shaping up as quite a success story for US space startup Rocket Lab. The company has backed up a successful satellite launch for DARPA in March with another for the US Air Force, seemingly putting a string of technical troubles behind it as it looks to ramp up the frequency of its missions from here on out.

The March mission for DARPA was Rocket Lab’s first for 2019 and saw it lift an experimental satellite into orbit to explore new radio communication technologies in space. This followed its involvement in a November mission last year where its Electron rocket delivered six customer satellites to orbit, and another first-of-its-kind launch under NASA’s Venture Class Launch Services program.

But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing since the company arrived on the scene in 2013, with last year in particular plagued by technical issues and delays of its first commercial mission.

That it has now backed up March’s efforts with the successful DARPA launch, just five weeks later, is further validation of its technology. The mission lifted off on Sunday and delivered three research satellites into orbit for the US Air Force, its heaviest payload yet at 180 kg (400 lb).

According to the company, it has monthly launches booked for the rest of 2019, and it hopes to ramp things up and launch every two weeks by the time the year is out. It has previously said that it harbors ambitions of eventually producing and launching an Electron rocket into orbit every week.