Rocket Lab to deploy Kinésis IoT satellite constellation

  • September 15, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Rocket Lab, a launch provider and space systems company, has won a contract to deploy an entire satellite constellation across five dedicated Electron missions for Kinéis, a French IoT connectivity provider.

Scheduled for launch in the second quarter of 2023, the constellation will enable Kinéis to improve its global IoT connectivity. Kinéis is backed by private and public investors including the French government’s space agency CNES (Centre National d’Études Spatiales) and CLS (Collecte Localisation Satellites).

The multi-launch contract with Kinéis, which is subject to standard termination and launch rescheduling provisions, follows a similar bulk buy of launches earlier this year to deploy nine satellites across five dedicated Electron missions as part of a constellation for BlackSky, a provider of real-time geospatial intelligence and global monitoring services.

“We are glad to entrust our constellation of 25 satellites to Rocket Lab,” said Kinéis CEO, Alexandre Tisserant. “They are the leaders in small satellite launch and the obvious choice as launch partner to activate our constellation at such a pace. We designed and developed our 25 satellites in record time with the support of CNES, Thalès Alénia Space and Hemeria in order to deliver a full new operational service to our existing and future customers. We are now eagerly counting down to first launch in 2023.”

The accuracy and reliability of Electron’s Kick Stage in successfully deploying more than 100 satellites to date was a decisive factor in Kinéis selecting Rocket Lab as its launch partner. The Kick Stage will act as an orbital transfer vehicle to deliver each satellite in the Kinéis constellation to its precise orbital planes at a 650km altitude, allowing Kinéis to avoid sacrificing spacecraft mass for propulsion and to begin a fully operational service as quickly as possible.

“We’re thrilled to be Kinéis’ launch partner and look forward to delivering their constellation across five dedicated missions in quick succession,” said Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck. “Deploying an entire constellation and having it operational quickly requires each satellite to be deployed to exactly the right orbit. Rocket Lab’s track record of exceptional orbital deployment accuracy provides Kinéis with that assurance. By taking care of in-space transport, the Kick Stage makes life much easier for satellite constellation operators, enabling them to maximise spacecraft mass for their payload.”

Kinéis operates the Argos system, an international scientific collaboration between CNES, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMetsat) and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), to monitor wildlife and fisheries, and to collect data about the Earth’s climate and environment through CLS.

Kinéis’ new constellation will complete the current system with more powerful 30kg-class nanosats that integrate IoT technology and a ship-tracking automatic identification system (AIS). Once deployed, this technology will allow Kinéis to expand across multiple industries and scale from 20,000 devices connected to millions.

In addition to these missions, Rocket Lab will contribute to the international Argos system with another upcoming Electron launch. Rocket Lab is the launch provider for the Argos-4 mission for General Atomics, which is developing the satellite for the US Space Force on behalf of NOAA. That mission is scheduled to launch early next year.

Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab provides end-to-end mission services that provide frequent and reliable access to space for civil, defence and commercial markets. Headquartered in Long Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the Electron launch vehicles and Photon satellite platform and is developing the Neutron launch vehicle. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, the Electron launch vehicle has become the second most frequently launched US rocket annually and has delivered 105 satellites to orbit for private and public sector organisations, enabling operations in national security, scientific research, space debris mitigation, Earth observation, climate monitoring and communications.

Rocket Lab has two launch sites, including a private orbital launch site in New Zealand, and a second launch site in Virginia, USA, expected to be operational by the end of 2021. The Photon spacecraft platform has been selected to support Nasa missions to the Moon and Mars, as well as the first private commercial mission to Venus.

Created in 2018, Kinéis is a satellite operator and global connectivity provider. In 2020, it raised €100m in equity.