Rocket Lab Prepares for First Commercial Launch

On April 19 in U.S. time, the first commercial takeoff of Rocket Lab is set. The liftoff will happen from the company’s own New Zealand launch base. Onboard the rocket is three satellites owned by U.S. heading to space on a mission of gathering weather data. The scheduled Electron launch meant to lift two satellites from Spiral Global and GeoOptics.

Both based in California, the two are industry competitors in gathering data on climate and weather using commercial spacecraft. This will be the commercially developed launcher’s third flight. It will happen after two test flights that happened May in 2017 and January this year. On its first launch, Electron failed due to ground tracking miscalculation.

This led the safety officials of the launch to terminate the flight prematurely. However, January’s second mission had the launcher successfully reaching the orbit. In the second test flight, the Electron rocket also installed four satellites into orbit. Electron set up two commercial satellites – CubeSats – from Spire. The company will be using the two CubeSats for ship tracking fleet and weather data.

It also deployed another CubeSat used for Planet’s Earth-imaging constellation. The last of the satellites deployed by Electron during second test flight is Rocket Lab’s very own satellite called Humanity Star, a reflective geodesic sphere. For the first two of Electron rocket’s flights, Rocket Lab used the nicknames “It’s a Test” referring to the maiden flight and “Still Testing” for the second.

This refers to the two phases the launcher underwent in May 2017 and January. For the third flight, the company adopted the name "It's Business Time." Rocket Lab's launch period takes 14 days that will open on April 19, 8:30 p.m. EDT and on April 20, 12:30 p.m. in New Zealand time. There is a launch window of four hours separating each day.

The Electron missile will lift off from the Mahia Peninsula company space base. This is located east coast of North Island, New Zealand. On April 19, the Electron launcher will begin moving to responsive space. Rocket Lab is a small rocket provider, the only one to successfully reach the orbit and deliver on their promise to provide small satellites with contact to space.

According to Rocket Lab, they are ready to launch an Electron rocket for only less than $5 million in every flight. The Electron rocket ensures their promise as a perfectly sized rocket able to lift small satellites into orbit as evidenced by its accomplishment in January.