LOGAN, Utah — Rocket Lab’s first-mover advantage among dedicated small-satellite launch-service providers has allowed it to shape its manifest to assure the desired mix of premium government customers and commercial startups. First-in, first-out is not the model.

The latest result of this was the July announcement that a planned August launch of commercial signals-intelligence satellites for startup Kleos Space had been scrapped in favor of a mission carrying two U.S. Air Force cubesats and two commercial payloads — including one from . . .

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