TriSept officials said the company's experience integrating cubesats for government customers was a factor in the Army Space and Missile Defense Command's decision to award TriSept a launch services agreement. Credit: TriSept Corp.

SAN FRANCISCO – TriSept Corp, a launch integration and mission management company, announced a launch services agreement Oct. 21 with U.S. Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC).

Under the agreement, TriSept will act as the launch broker and integration manager for a three-unit cubesat technology demonstration mission, called Gunsmoke-J, scheduled to launch in February 2021 on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from Mahia, New Zealand.

“TriSept is thrilled to have secured the rideshare slot, dispenser hardware, regulatory compliance in both nations and spacecraft integration for this important technology demonstration in space,” TriSept CEO Rob Spicer said in a statement. “We look forward to integrating this small but game-changing payload aboard a Rocket Lab Electron in the coming months.”

Gunsmoke-J, a joint capability technology demonstration project, will be “executed by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and sponsored by both the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense and the U.S. Army,” Eddie Johnson, Gunsmoke-J Program Manager, U.S. Army SMDC Technical Center, said in a statement. “This science and technology effort will demonstrate an entry-level capability in a 3U form factor relevant to U.S. Army warfighter needs. The mission will also help inform future acquisition decisions.”

Chantilly, Virginia-based TriSept plans to integrate the cubesat with the dispenser at Rocket Lab’s Long Beach, California, facility about 30 days before the scheduled launch date. Then, TriSept officials plan to travel to the Rocket Lab launch site in New Zealand to manage the integration and encapsulation of the dispenser device approximately two to three weeks prior to liftoff atop Electron’s upper stage.

TriSept established a good working relationship with SMDC, when TriSept was the mission integrator for the U.S. Air Force Operationally Responsive Space office in Albuquerque, New Mexico, said Jason Armstrong, TriSept Launch Integration Services director.

“Through that relationship we’ve been able to establish a process for identifying launch opportunities for a number of different payloads SMDC is continuing to develop,” Armstrong told SpaceNews.

TriSept also has a relationship with Rocket Lab, after integrating payloads for recent missions.

TriSept integrated ten cubesats launched in December 2018 on a Rocket Lab Electron as part of NASA’s 19th Educational Launch of Nanosatellites mission.

TriSept also has a launch services agreement with Rocket Lab, Millennium Space Systems and Tethers Unlimited to integrate Dragracer, a mission set to fly on an upcoming Electron flight to demonstrate technology to de-orbit satellites at the conclusion of their missions.

The SMDC “rideshare exemplifies the very heart of our overall vision at Rocket Lab; that even the smallest of the small satellites can make a major difference in both commercial and government markets,” Lars Hoffman, Rocket Lab global launch services senior vice president, said in a statement.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...