LOGAN, Utah — BlackSky, one of Rocket Lab’s biggest launch customers, has bought an additional five Electron launches for its next-generation imaging satellites.

The companies announced Aug. 8 that BlackSky will purchase five Electron launches for missions starting in 2024 carrying its Gen-3 imaging satellites. Those launches will take place from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand. The companies did not disclose the value of the deal, although Rocket Lab has reported an average Electron launch price of $7.5 million.

“With these launches BlackSky will replenish, replace and expand on-orbit capacity, introduce Gen-3 capabilities, and further enable BlackSky to meet the demands of the most time-dominant missions,” Brian O’Toole, chief executive of BlackSky, said in a statement.

BlackSky announced plans for the Gen-3 satellites in 2022. The satellites are designed to produce images at resolutions as sharp as 35 centimeters. The company’s existing Gen-2 satellites provide imagery at a resolution of one meter.

Rocket Lab has launched six missions carrying BlackSky satellites, most recently in March when an Electron launched the last two Gen-2 satellites. The new order makes BlackSky the biggest single customer for Electron launches.

“After four years of launching for BlackSky, we’re delighted to continue our partnership with more dedicated launches on Electron,” Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab, said in a statement. “Building and maintaining a constellation requires precision deployment to unique orbits and a dependable launch schedule. We’re proud to deliver this dependable and tailored capability launch after launch, year after year.”

The contract announcement coincided with Rocket Lab’s second quarter financial results. The company reported revenue of $62 million and a net loss of $45.9 million. That revenue included $22.5 million from three Electron launches in the quarter.

Rocket Lab has performed seven Electron launches so far this year, including a launch of a suborbital version of the rocket called Hypersonic Accelerator Suborbital Test Electron (HASTE) in June. An eighth launch, of a Capella Space radar satellite, was scrubbed on July 30 and again on Aug. 6 because of data from an engine sensor.

Beck said in an earning call that engineers were still studying “some unusual data” from that sensor but did not expect a lengthy delay. “We have a very straightforward path to resolution and we’ll reschedule the launch later this month.”

Rocket Lab continues to forecast completing 15 Electron launches this year, both orbital and HASTE. The company expects to conduct four launches in the quarter, one of which, a rideshare mission for NASA, Spire and Telesat, took place July 17.

That launch also tested improvements in the Electron booster to aid in its recovery and future reuse. “The new system works exceptionally well, and Electron splashed down in the best condition we’ve seen it yet,” Beck said in the call. The booster splashed down 400 meters from the target, and a recovery boat reached the booster in 15 to 20 minutes.

Beck said that about one of every three Electron boosters in production now is designed for recovery, with improvements planned on the Electrons slated for the vehicle’s 41st and 45th flights. The upcoming Capella launch is Electron’s 40th flight.

He said he did not foresee any additional changes in the booster for recovery and reuse after the 45th flight. “Hopefully at that point it is just business as usual.”

Rocket Lab has not set a date for reusing a full Electron booster. Beck said on the call that the company still plans to refly a single Rutherford engine on an Electron launch before the end of the year. “From there we’ll schedule the first reflight of a full stage booster,” he said.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...