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Rocket Lab Prepares to Launch iQPS Mission

Rocket Lab’s 42nd Electron mission will deliver an Earth observation satellite to orbit for Japanese company iQPS

Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, is preparing to launch its 42nd Electron mission no earlier than December 15, 2023, between 17:00 – 19:00 NZDT / 04:00 – 06:00 UTC.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

Rocket Lab's Electron launch vehicle on the pad at Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand ahead of the company's next mission this week, a dedicated launch for Japanese company iQPS. (Photo: Business Wire)

Rocket Lab's Electron launch vehicle on the pad at Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand ahead of the company's next mission this week, a dedicated launch for Japanese company iQPS. (Photo: Business Wire)

The mission, named “The Moon God Awakens,” will lift off from Pad B at Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand carrying a single satellite for Japan-based Earth imaging company the Institute for Q-shu Pioneers of Space, Inc. (iQPS).

Named after the Japanese God of the Moon, the QPS-SAR-5 satellite “TSUKUYOMI-I” is a synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite that will collect high-resolution images of Earth. The satellite will join another iQPS satellite in orbit to ultimately form a 36-satellite constellation capable of monitoring Earth at specific fixed points every 10 minutes.

“We’re delighted to be providing iQPS with a dedicated ride to orbit, enabling them to tailor the orbit, launch timing and integration process to meet specific mission requirements,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck.

iQPS CEO Dr. Shunsuke Onishi commented: "We are deeply grateful to the Rocket Lab team for their efforts in arranging the launch opportunity that aligns perfectly with our desired orbit. Additionally, we take great pride in our team, working tirelessly day by day to accommodate this tight timeline.”

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.

“The Moon God Awakens” is Rocket Lab’s 10th Electron mission this year, besting the Company’s previous record of nine launches in 2022.

A live broadcast of the launch will be available via YouTube from approximately T-20 minutes. Follow Rocket Lab on X for real time updates on launch day.

+ About Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab is a global leader in launch and space systems. Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle is the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually and has delivered more than 170 satellites to orbit for commercial and Government partners, including NASA, the U.S. Air Force, DARPA and the NRO. Rocket Lab also delivers proven suborbital hypersonic launch capability with its HASTE launch vehicle. Building on the deep heritage of Electron, Rocket Lab is developing Neutron, an advanced 13-tonne payload class, reusable launch vehicle tailored for constellation deployment and interplanetary missions. Rocket Lab is also a premier supplier of advanced satellites, flight-proven subsystems and spacecraft components. At a component level, Rocket Lab spacecraft technology spans space solar power, composite structures, flight software, star trackers, reaction wheels, separation systems, and more. Rocket Lab satellite technology and components have been integrated into more than 1,700 satellite missions globally.

+ About iQPS

iQPS is a space start-up founded in 2005 by two Emeritus Professors of Kyushu University and a rocket developer to establish the space industry in the Kyushu region in Japan. Based on more than 20 years of technology in the development of small satellites at Kyushu University, now iQPS brings together young engineers and industrialists with a team of pioneering professors emeritus. In addition, iQPS's business is strongly supported by more than 25 partner companies, mostly in northern Kyushu. The goal of iQPS small SAR satellite QPS-SAR project is to deliver a near real-time data provision service. Today, three QPS-SARs have been launched and are in operation: QPS-SAR-1 "IZANAGI", 2 "IZANAMI" and 6 “AMATERU-Ⅲ”. In July 2023, iQPS released Spotlight images of QPS-SAR-6 with azimuth resolution of 46cm and range resolution of 39 cm, which is the highest resolution ever achieved by a Japanese commercial SAR satellite. Unfortunately, QPS-SAR-3 and 4 have not been deployed into orbit due to rocket failure. For further information please check:

+ Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We intend such forward-looking statements to be covered by the safe harbor provisions for forward-looking statements contained in Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”) and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). All statements contained in this press release other than statements of historical fact, including, without limitation, statements regarding our launch and space systems operations, launch schedule and window, safe and repeatable access to space, Neutron development, operational expansion and business strategy are forward-looking statements. The words “believe,” “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “potential,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “expect,” “strategy,” “future,” “could,” “would,” “project,” “plan,” “target,” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, though not all forward-looking statements use these words or expressions. These statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including but not limited to the factors, risks and uncertainties included in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022, as such factors may be updated from time to time in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), accessible on the SEC’s website at and the Investor Relations section of our website at, which could cause our actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statements made in this press release. Any such forward-looking statements represent management’s estimates as of the date of this press release. While we may elect to update such forward-looking statements at some point in the future, we disclaim any obligation to do so, even if subsequent events cause our views to change.


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