EDITOR’S NOTE: Updated for new launch attempt Jan. 20.
Rocket Lab’s light-class Electron launcher is set to take off on its second orbital test flight from New Zealand, aiming to deliver three small shoebox-sized CubeSats into low Earth orbit for Planet and Spire.
The two-stage, 55-foot-tall (17-meter) rocket could take off as soon as 8:30 p.m. EST on Jan. 20 (0130 GMT on Jan. 21) from Rocket Lab’s commercial launch complex on Mahia Peninsula on New Zealand’s North Island.
The privately-developed Electron launcher is making its second flight after its maiden flight in May reached space, but faltered before reaching orbit. While the second flight is still considered a test — Rocket Lab has christened the mission “Still Testing” — three CubeSats are on-board from California-based companies Planet and Spire.
The timeline posted below is accompanied by animation provided by Rocket Lab that illustrates the approximate appearance of the major flight events.
Four satellites set to join O3b’s expanding broadband network successfully launched Friday on top of a Russian-built Soyuz booster from French Guiana, joining 12 other craft linking developing nations, far-flung islands, cruise ships and other hard-to-reach locales with the Internet.
After several near-misses in tries to catch payload shrouds jettisoned from Falcon 9 rockets climbing into space, a high-speed boat tasked with retrieving the fairings for SpaceX to reuse has been upgraded and dispatched into the Pacific Ocean ahead of a launch Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force in California.
Rocket Lab announced Saturday it will hold off launching an Electron rocket on an orbital test flight until early 2018 as officials face the end of a 10-day pre-approved launch window, after a series of scrubs to ensure the booster is ready for liftoff and wait for ideal weather conditions.