Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket rises from its launch pad on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. (Rocket Lab via YouTube)
Rocket Lab executed its second orbital mission today, sending six small satellites and an experimental drag sail into orbit from an oceanside launch pad in New Zealand.
Liftoff of the Electron rocket came at 4:50 p.m. New Zealand time on Sunday (7:50 p.m. PT Saturday) at Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula.
This satellite launch mission was nicknamed “It’s Business Time,” in reference to its fully commercial nature as well as in tribute to one of the songs by Flight of the Conchords, a New Zealand parody-pop duo. Rocket Lab’s business time had been postponed twice over the past eight months, due to concerns about a motor controller for the first-stage Rutherford engines. But this time around, the countdown went off without a hitch, and the three-stage rocket rose into the southern sky to enter a pole-to-pole orbit.
Second-stage separation proceeded as planned. The rocket’s Curie kickstage, a mini-third stage, fired up about an hour later to put the satellites in their intended orbits.
The payloads included two Lemur-2 satellites for Spire, designed to monitor maritime traffic and weather; ...