Thanks to its role in handling pre-launch logistics, Seattle-based Spaceflight Inc. can claim a share of the credit for two successful satellite deployments that took place within 24 hours this week — but it’s also facing a rift in relations with SpaceX, one of its longtime launch partners.
First, about the successes: On Friday, SpaceX launched 40 satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket, as part of a mission known as Transporter-4. Spaceflight Inc. handled the arrangements for flying several of those satellites.
Spaceflight also played a supporting role in today’s launch of a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. Two Earth observation satellites were successfully sent into orbit for BlackSky, a Virginia company that was once Spaceflight’s corporate sibling and still has a significant workforce based in Seattle. Spaceflight Inc.’s role and the Seattle angle were recognized in Rocket Lab’s mission patch for the launch, which includes the Space Needle in its design.
“Thanks for another great launch day!” Spaceflight told Rocket Lab in a tweet. In contrast, Spaceflight’s interactions with SpaceX have become less cordial and more complicated over the past few months.