Rocket Lab has unveiled the in-house designed and built Photon satellite platform for a range of low-Earth orbit (LEO) missions.

The company’s new end-to-end mission platform enables small satellite customers to focus on delivering their service from orbit.

Photon has an available payload mass of up to 170kg and been designed for missions, including technology demonstrations, risk reduction pathfinders, constellations and hosted payloads.

It has been developed as a configurable platform and is suitable for existing and emerging applications such as communications, remote sensing, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

“As the turnkey solution for complete small satellite missions, Rocket Lab brings space within easy reach.”

Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said: “Small satellite operators want to focus on providing data or services from space, but building satellite hardware is a significant barrier to achieving this.

“The time, resources and expertise required to build hardware can draw small satellite operators away from their core purpose, delaying their path to orbit and revenue.

“As the turnkey solution for complete small satellite missions, Rocket Lab brings space within easy reach.”

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Photon is a smallsat based on the kick stage the company uses on its Electron rocket. It operates a high-powered iteration of the 3D printed Curie propulsion system and is capable of supporting missions with an orbital lifespan of up to five years.

Photon will be manufactured at Rocket Lab’s headquarters in Huntington Beach, California, and includes an S-band communication system, an attitude control system, and avionics suite.

The company plans to launch the first operational Photon from its Launch Complex 1 in the fourth quarter of this year.

Last December, Rocket Lab launched the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa)-19 mission into space from its Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula.