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.
Rocket Lab’s next launch from New Zealand is set for no earlier than June 27 with a bundle of spacecraft including a commercial Earth-observing microsatellite for BlackSky, two CubeSats for U.S. Special Operations Command, a pair of tiny prototype data relay nodes for Swarm Technologies, a student-built payload from Australia, and a satellite whose identity and owner remain a secret.
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.