Rocket Lab Postpones Launch Due to Coronavirus

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

COVID-19 Update from Rocket Lab

In response to the evolving COVID-19 situation, we have paused launch preparations for our next mission to protect the health and safety of Rocket Lab team members, our families, and the wider community.

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Upcoming Launches to Close Out March

Astra Space 1 of 3 rocket on the launch pad in Alaska. (Credit: DARPA webcast)

Here’s quick look at the launches scheduled for the rest of March. Information from Spaceflightnow.com’s launch schedule.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled for March 30 is listed. However, unofficial reports say it has been delayed indefinitely due to travel restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The booster will launch the SAOCOM 1B Earth observation satellite for Argentine.

What the months ahead hold in terms of launch is uncertain. Europe has suspended flights out of its launch base in French Guiana. Whether other spaceports are closed remains to be seen. China appears to have weathered the worst of the virus.

I would expect crew and cargo flights to the International Space Station (ISS) to continue. The first crewed flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to ISS is scheduled for mid- to late May. It’s difficult to say whether that schedule will hold.

March 23/24

Launch Vehicle: Long March 2C
Payloads: 3 Yaogan 30-06 military surveillance satellites
Launch Time: Approximately 11:40 p.m. EDT on 23rd (0340 GMT on 24th)
Launch Site: Xichang, China

UPDATE: Launch successful.

March 24

Launch Vehicle: Astra Rocket 3.0 “1 of 3”
Payloads: TBA
Launch Window: TBA
Launch Site: Pacific Spaceport Complex, Alaska

UPDATE: Media report of an “anomaly” during a dress rehearsal on Monday.. Extend of anomaly and new schedule uncertain. Doesn’t sound like they’re launching on Tuesday. More details here: https://kmxt.org/2020/03/anomaly-at-pacific-spaceport-complex-launch-rehearsal-no-injuries-as-a-result/

March 26

Launch Vehicle: Atlas V
Payload: AEHF 6 military communications satellite
Launch Window: 2:57-4:57 p.m. EDT (1857-2057 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.ulalaunch.com

March 29

Launch Vehicle: Electron “Don’t Stop Me Now”
Payloads: Multiple CubeSats
Launch Window: 12:43-2:33 a.m. EDT (0443-0633 GMT)
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com/

UPDATE: Rocket Lab has suspended preparations on this launch due to the coronavirus.

March 30
(Possibly Postponed)

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: SAOCOM 1B Earth observation satellite
Launch Time: 7:21 p.m. EDT (2321 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

Rocket Lab’s Next Mission to Launch Satellites for NASA, NRO and the University of New South Wales

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab’s next rideshare mission will enable university research into Earth’s magnetic field, support the testing of new smallsat communications architecture and demonstrate a streamlined, commercial approach for getting government small satellites into space.

Long Beach, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, a space technology company and the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has announced today that its next mission will deploy payloads for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra Space.

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Capella Space, Rocket Lab to Launch Mid-Inclination Satellite to Improve Monitoring of Key Global Regions

Electron lifts off with U.S. Air Force satellites. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

05 March 2020 – Rocket Lab, a space technology company and global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has inked a deal to launch a dedicated mission for Capella Space, an aerospace and information services company providing Earth observation data on demand. Together, Capella Space and Rocket Lab will launch the first ever synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite that delivers commercial data into a mid-inclination orbit to optimize hotspot monitoring of key regions in the world.

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Rocket Lab to Benefit From New Zealand Road Investment

Rocket Lab’s launch site on New Zealand Mahia Peninsula as seen from the Electron booster. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (New Zealand Government PR) — The Provincial Growth Fund is investing $8.3 million [US $5.16 million] on a roading package for Mahia that will lead to greater and wider economic benefits for the region and beyond, Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced at an event in Mahia today.

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Rocket Lab’s Electron Booster Launches Secret Reconnaissance Payload

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

Rocket Lab successfully launched a payload on Friday from the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) from its launch complex on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.

The dedicated mission, named “Birds of a Feather,” was the first NRO mission ever launched outside of the United States. Rocket Lab is an American company based in California.

NRO awarded Rocket Lab the contract under its Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) program. RASR is focused on allowing the reconnaissance agency to explore the use of new launch vehicles on a streamlined, commercial basis.

New Zealand as seen from an Electron rocket. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck tweeted that the first stage made it through the atmosphere and down to the ocean for the second time. The company will attempt to use a helicopter to catch a stage during descent on a future flight.

It was Rocket Lab’s first launch of 2020 and the 10th success in 11 launch attempts of Electron. The booster first flew in May 2017.

Rocket Lab to Launch NRO Mission on Jan. 31

Electron lifts off with U.S. Air Force satellites. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif., 20 January 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, the global leader in small satellite launch, has announced today that it will launch a dedicated mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The launch window is scheduled to open on 31 January NZDT and the mission, called ‘Birds of a Feather,’ will lift off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1.

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Rocket Lab Delays Electron Launch Due to Stormy Weather

“As the Crow Flies”

Booster: Electron
Payload: Palisade 16U CubeSat for Astro Digital
Location: Launch Complex 1, Mahia Peninsula, NZ
Launch Period: 15 October – 28 October 2019 NZDT (14 October – 28 October 2019 UTC)
Launch Window: Daily from 12:00 – 16:00 NZDT (23:00 – 03:00 UTC/7 – 11 pm EDT)
Live launch webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com/live-stream (begins 15 – 20 minutes prior to launch)
Launch Day Updates: www.rocketlabusa.com/missions/next-mission/ and follow Rocket Lab on Twitter @RocketLab

An Overview of Rocket Lab’s Next Launch

Electron lifts off with U.S. Air Force satellites. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

“As the Crow Flies”

Booster: Electron
Payload: Palisade 16U CubeSat for Astro Digital
Location: Launch Complex 1, Mahia Peninsula, NZ
Launch Period: 15 October – 28 October 2019 NZDT (14 October – 28 October 2019 UTC)
Launch Window: Daily from 12:00 – 16:00 NZDT (23:00 – 03:00 UTC/7 – 11 pm EDT)
Live launch webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com/live-stream (begins 15 – 20 minutes prior to launch)
Launch Day Updates: www.rocketlabusa.com/missions/next-mission/ and follow Rocket Lab on Twitter @RocketLab

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China Launch Surge Left U.S., Russia Behind in 2018

Long March 2F rocket in flight carrying Shenzhou-11. (Credit: CCTV)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The year 2018 was the busiest one for launches in decades. There were a total of 111 completely successful launches out of 114 attempts. It was the highest total since 1990, when 124 launches were conducted.

China set a new record for launches in 2018. The nation launched 39 times with 38 successes in a year that saw a private Chinese company fail in the country’s first ever orbital launch attempt.

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Rocket Lab to Launch 4 Satellites in Look Ma, No Hands Mission

Electron lifts off with U.S. Air Force satellites. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab’s eighth mission will lift-off in August from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, carrying a total of four satellites aboard an Electron launch vehicle.

The mission is manifested with satellites destined to begin a new constellation for UNSEENLABS, as well as more rideshare payloads for Spaceflight, consisting of a spacecraft for BlackSky and the United States Air Force Space Command.

The first launch opportunity is no earlier than Friday, Aug. 16 at 12:57 UTC (8:57 EDT). The launch window is open until Aug. 30.

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Rocket Lab Successfully Launches Rideshare Mission for Spaceflight

Rocket Lab’s launch site on New Zealand Mahia Peninsula as seen from the Electron booster. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Rocket Lab’s Electron booster successfully launched the “Make it Rain” rideshare mission for Seattle-based Spaceflight from New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula on Saturday.

The mission lofted seven satellites, including: BlackSky’s Global-3 imaging microsat; two U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Prometheus reconnaissance CubeSats; two Swarm SpaceBEE satellites; Melbourne Space Program’s ACRUX-1 CubeSat; and one spacecraft from an undisclosed customer. The payloads weighed 80 kg (176.4 lb).

The BlackSky Global-3 imaging satellite was developed, designed and manufactured by BlackSky of the United States. The company is a provider of geospatial intelligence, satellite imaging and global monitoring services.

It was the sixth successful Electron launch in a row out of seven attempts and the third flight of 2019.  Rocket Lab has now orbited 35 satellites on its six successful missions.

The mission’s name was drawn from the high volume of rainfall in Seattle where Spaceflight is headquartered and at the Mahia Peninsula where Electron from which Electron is launched.











Spaceflight’s First Rideshare Mission Aboard a Rocket Lab Electron Readies for Launch

Electron lifts off with U.S. Air Force satellites. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

SEATTLE (Spaceflight PR) — Spaceflight, the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, today announced it will launch seven spacecraft from five organizations later this month on Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from Launch Complex 1 at the southern tip of Mahia Peninsula, on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. This mission, also called “Make It Rain” by Rocket Lab as a nod to the weather in both Seattle and New Zealand, represents Spaceflight’s first of five launches scheduled with Rocket Lab this year.

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