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Rocket Lab VCLS Launch a Watershed Moment for the Future of NASA's Cubesat Missions

Press Release From: Commercial Spaceflight Federation
Posted: Monday, December 17, 2018

Rocket Lab’s successful launch as part of NASA’s Venture Class Launch Services program, (VCLS) was a watershed moment for the future of NASA’s cubesat missions. Today’s accomplishment proved low-cost, commercial launch vehicles can provide reliable and affordable flights for NASA cubesat missions. 

“Today’s launch is another groundbreaking moment for both the commercial space industry and NASA as Rocket Lab becomes the first smallsat launch operator to fly under NASA’s VCLS program,” said Taber MacCallum, Chairman of the Board of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF). “We applaud NASA for its leadership in facilitating effective science through VCLS and smallsat platforms.”

Until today, smallsat launch opportunities were based primarily on ride-sharing arrangements, limiting flying to space-available basis on mid- and large launch vehicles. Today’s launch is a major milestone and establishes a new, cost-effective approach to launching smaller payloads for NASA missions. Virgin Orbit has also received an award for VCLS and plans to launch in the near future. 

“Achievements in space continue to get less expensive, more frequent, and smaller – in size, that is – and that’s an unprecedented advantage,” said Eric Stallmer, CSF President. “Continued advancements in smallsat technologies in response to the need for rapid, repeatable access to space are leveling the playing field and expanding our capabilities beyond what was imaginable just a few years ago. Congratulations to the entire team at Rocket Lab.”

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is the leading voice for the commercial spaceflight industry. Founded in 2006, CSF and its 80+ members are laying the foundation for a sustainable space economy and democratizing access to space for scientists, students, civilians, and businesses. CSF members are responsible for the creation of thousands of high-tech jobs driven by billions of dollars in investment. Through the promotion of technology innovation, CSF is guiding the expansion of Earth's economic sphere, bolstering U.S. leadership in aerospace, and inspiring America's next generation of engineers and explorers.

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