Rocket Lab’s next launch from New Zealand, set for Friday, will carry a data recorder to measure the aerothermal environments encountered by the Electron launcher’s first stage during descent back into the atmosphere, information engineers say is crucial to successfully achieving the company’s newly-announced plan to recover and reuse the booster.
A Rocket Lab Electron rocket climbed into orbit from New Zealand Thursday (U.S. time) with an experimental payload for a U.S. military research and development agency to demonstrate the performance of a compact, deployable antenna that could expand the communications capabilities of future small satellites.
Rocket Lab’s launch team canceled a launch attempt Sunday in New Zealand after discovering a misbehaving video transmitter on the Electron booster set to loft a small U.S. military satellite into orbit to test an innovative antenna design. After replacing the transmitter, Rocket Lab announced the launch is set for Thursday (U.S. time) to wait for better weather.
Rocket Lab’s first launch of the year lifted off Thursday at 7:27 p.m. EDT (2327 GMT) after a four-day delay to replace a video transmitter and wait for improved weather. The company’s Electron rocket launched from Mahia Peninsula on New Zealand’s North Island with a technology demonstration satellite for DARPA, the U.S. military research and development agency.