Update July 2: Rocket Lab is pushing the launch back two days to July 5 in hopes of better launch weather conditions.
Update July 3: Now the launch is set for July 4! Watch live below:
Update 3: July 4: Rocket Lab reports a loss of vehicle and payload during the mission. More details to come.
Rocket Lab will be ready for its next launch just three weeks after Saturday’s mission “Don’t Stop Me Now,” reinforcing the increasingly fast launch capabilities of the small satellite launch company.
The new mission is named “Pics Or It Didn’t Happen” after the number of Earth imaging satellites being deployed in space. The next Electron launch is scheduled to take place from Launch Complex 1 Pad A at the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand on July 3.
This time, the company will launch seven small satellites from the Rocket Lab Launch Complex to a 500km circular Earth orbit. Five of these satellites are Planet’s SuperDove project dedicated to general research and observation.
Canon, a name familiar outside of the satellite imaging world, is also launching its CE-SAT-IB satellite on Rocket Lab’s next mission. The satellite is designed to demonstrate Canon’s technology for capturing high-resolution images of Earth from space.
The other satellite that will be aboard Electron is the British Faraday-1 6U CubeSat, which will collect data for startups and other institutions interested in working on software used during space missions.
Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said in a statement that the company plans to show how it is possible to eliminate the wait to put more satellites into orbit by offering “launches just days apart.”
We’re excited to continue expanding our responsive space capability with our third launch pad coming online before the end of the year, as well as the continued growth of our Photon satellite program that enables our small sat operators to do more, spend less, and get to orbit faster.
A new Electron rocket is built every 18 days, but refurbishing the launch pad between missions takes additional time. Rocket Lab is currently completing development of a second New Zealand launchpad to minimize time between launches.