Rocket Lab prepares to launch a Canon camera microsatellite into orbit

You're probably familiar with Canon's consumer camera products — its fixed-lens models and DSLRs, for example — but lesser-known is the company's work on micro-satellites. Back in 2017, Canon tapped India to launch one of its own small satellites, something that paved the way for two more satellite launches that will happen in 2020. The first launch, which involves Canon's CE-SAT-IB satellite, will take place in early July.

According to Spaceflight, the company that is managing the mission between Rocket Lab and Canon, the launch window opens on July 3 UTC / July 4 in New Zealand from which the rocket will take off. In addition to a handful of other small satellites, Rocket Lab's Electron vehicle will carry the Canon CE-SAT-IB micro-satellite into space, where it will enter orbit and focus back on Earth.

The satellite features Canon's own technology, including hardware based on one of its EOS DSLR cameras. The optical system built into the satellite is designed to capture extremely high-resolution images of Earth, ones that show detail down to a level of around 3ft on the planet's surface from an altitude of nearly 400 miles.

Rocket Lab's Electron vehicle is rapidly manufactured and designed specifically for launching space payloads like micro-satellites on a regular basis. Though the company experienced delays earlier this year due to the surprise arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, it will proceed with monthly launches throughout the latter half of 2020 and into next year.

Canon already has plans to launch another CE-SAT-1 satellite, a model simply called the CE-SAT-IIB. The CE-SAT-IB scheduled for launch in early July is the first mass-produced variant of the CE-SAT-I satellite that was first introduced. Rocket Lab also has deals in place to launch payloads for other private companies and government agencies alike.