Rocket Lab Don't Stop Me Now Launch Highlights

James Marshall
June 14, 2020

The primary payloads on the Electron were three small satellites for the NRO, details about which, including their missions, sizes or even names, neither the company nor the agency disclosed.

Rocket Lab has returned to active launch status from its first launchpad in New Zealand, after the global COVID-19 pandemic temporarily paused its work there.

Rocket Lab is gearing up for another attempt to launch its latest mission after it was delayed Thursday due to high winds.

Onboard the rocket includes several small satellites, including the ANDESITE (Ad-Hoc Network Demonstration for Extended Satellite-Based Inquiry and Other Team Endeavors) satellite created by electrical and mechanical engineering students and professors at Boston University. According to Rocket Lab, the company has now deployed 53 satellites to orbit with its Electron rocket.

"It's a privilege to have NASA and the NRO launch on Electron again, and we're excited to welcome the University of New South Wales onto our manifest for the first time, too".

Rocket Lab's previous launch, in January, was a dedicated mission for the NRO.

New Zealand is now fully out of lockdown, however - the country's fast action and relatively small, dispersed population allowed it to contain cases of COVID-19 fairly quickly, and reduce the infection rate to zero.

Green Party foreign policy spokeswoman Golriz Ghahraman said her party was "concerned" about the launch given the current USA administration's aggressive moves in the Middle East.

The mission was originally planned for late March before being delayed by the coronavirus lockdown.

The M2 Pathfinder satellite - a collaboration between UNSW Canberra Space and the Australian Government - will carry out tests related to Australia's future space capabilities.

Now, Rocket Lab is preparing for it's first US launch, which will take place from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia in the third quarter of 2020.

That mission will be Rocket Lab's first from United States soil, and is scheduled for no earlier than the third quarter of 2020. That mission will launch a single micro-sat for the Air Force Research Laboratory's Monolith program, which will explore whether small satellites can support large aperture payloads for space weather monitoring.

The privately funded Kiwi-American company has previously sent a total of 48 satellites into space for customers such as NASA and the US.

A parachute was attached to the test stage, which was snagged around 5000-feet by a helicopter using a specially designed grappling hook. The two-stage Electron rocket climbed skywards completing its first stage burn approximately three minutes after liftoff.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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