Rocket Lab Postpones Launch Due to Coronavirus

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

COVID-19 Update from Rocket Lab

In response to the evolving COVID-19 situation, we have paused launch preparations for our next mission to protect the health and safety of Rocket Lab team members, our families, and the wider community.

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Upcoming Launches to Close Out March

Astra Space 1 of 3 rocket on the launch pad in Alaska. (Credit: DARPA webcast)

Here’s quick look at the launches scheduled for the rest of March. Information from Spaceflightnow.com’s launch schedule.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled for March 30 is listed. However, unofficial reports say it has been delayed indefinitely due to travel restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The booster will launch the SAOCOM 1B Earth observation satellite for Argentine.

What the months ahead hold in terms of launch is uncertain. Europe has suspended flights out of its launch base in French Guiana. Whether other spaceports are closed remains to be seen. China appears to have weathered the worst of the virus.

I would expect crew and cargo flights to the International Space Station (ISS) to continue. The first crewed flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to ISS is scheduled for mid- to late May. It’s difficult to say whether that schedule will hold.

March 23/24

Launch Vehicle: Long March 2C
Payloads: 3 Yaogan 30-06 military surveillance satellites
Launch Time: Approximately 11:40 p.m. EDT on 23rd (0340 GMT on 24th)
Launch Site: Xichang, China

UPDATE: Launch successful.

March 24

Launch Vehicle: Astra Rocket 3.0 “1 of 3”
Payloads: TBA
Launch Window: TBA
Launch Site: Pacific Spaceport Complex, Alaska

UPDATE: Media report of an “anomaly” during a dress rehearsal on Monday.. Extend of anomaly and new schedule uncertain. Doesn’t sound like they’re launching on Tuesday. More details here: https://kmxt.org/2020/03/anomaly-at-pacific-spaceport-complex-launch-rehearsal-no-injuries-as-a-result/

March 26

Launch Vehicle: Atlas V
Payload: AEHF 6 military communications satellite
Launch Window: 2:57-4:57 p.m. EDT (1857-2057 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.ulalaunch.com

March 29

Launch Vehicle: Electron “Don’t Stop Me Now”
Payloads: Multiple CubeSats
Launch Window: 12:43-2:33 a.m. EDT (0443-0633 GMT)
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com/

UPDATE: Rocket Lab has suspended preparations on this launch due to the coronavirus.

March 30
(Possibly Postponed)

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: SAOCOM 1B Earth observation satellite
Launch Time: 7:21 p.m. EDT (2321 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

Rocket Lab’s Electron Launch Vehicle Certified by NASA

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

The certification enables NASA to launch small satellites on Electron, providing confidence for the nation’s low-cost science, research and exploration payloads

Long Beach, California. 17 March 2020 – NASA has certified Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle, providing confidence for NASA’s low cost scientific, educational and technology demonstration small satellites.

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Rocket Lab’s Next Mission to Launch Satellites for NASA, NRO and the University of New South Wales

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab’s next rideshare mission will enable university research into Earth’s magnetic field, support the testing of new smallsat communications architecture and demonstrate a streamlined, commercial approach for getting government small satellites into space.

Long Beach, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, a space technology company and the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has announced today that its next mission will deploy payloads for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra Space.

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TriSept Completes CubeSat Integration for NASA ELANA 32 Andesite Mission

NASA to fulfill Boston University study of the earth’s magnetic field, as TriSept leads integration of 6U CubeSat payload in dispenser bound for launch on a Rocket Lab Electron.

CHANTILLY, Virginia, March 9, 2020 (TriSept PR) – TriSept Corporation, a leading provider of launch integration, management and brokerage services for commercial and government missions, today announced it has completed the integration activity for NASA’s ELaNa 32 ANDESITE mission, a rideshare set to launch Boston University’s groundbreaking scientific study of the earth’s magnetic field on a Rocket Lab Electron from New Zealand later this month.

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Capella Space, Rocket Lab to Launch Mid-Inclination Satellite to Improve Monitoring of Key Global Regions

Electron lifts off with U.S. Air Force satellites. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

05 March 2020 – Rocket Lab, a space technology company and global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has inked a deal to launch a dedicated mission for Capella Space, an aerospace and information services company providing Earth observation data on demand. Together, Capella Space and Rocket Lab will launch the first ever synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite that delivers commercial data into a mid-inclination orbit to optimize hotspot monitoring of key regions in the world.

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Rocket Lab Wins Contract to Send CubeSat to the Moon

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Rocket Lab of Huntington Beach, California, to provide launch services for the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat.

Rocket Lab, a commercial launch provider licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration, will launch the 55-pound CubeSat aboard an Electron rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. After launch, the company’s Photon platform will deliver CAPSTONE to a trans-lunar injection.

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Rocket Lab’s Electron Booster Launches Secret Reconnaissance Payload

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

Rocket Lab successfully launched a payload on Friday from the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) from its launch complex on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.

The dedicated mission, named “Birds of a Feather,” was the first NRO mission ever launched outside of the United States. Rocket Lab is an American company based in California.

NRO awarded Rocket Lab the contract under its Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) program. RASR is focused on allowing the reconnaissance agency to explore the use of new launch vehicles on a streamlined, commercial basis.

New Zealand as seen from an Electron rocket. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck tweeted that the first stage made it through the atmosphere and down to the ocean for the second time. The company will attempt to use a helicopter to catch a stage during descent on a future flight.

It was Rocket Lab’s first launch of 2020 and the 10th success in 11 launch attempts of Electron. The booster first flew in May 2017.

Rocket Lab Moves Headquarters to Long Beach

Photon system (Credit: Rocket Lab)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has announced it will open a new facility which will serve as its Corporate Headquarters, provide incremental production capacity, and bring Mission Control Center capabilities to Long Beach, California.

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Rocket Lab to Launch NRO Mission on Jan. 31

Electron lifts off with U.S. Air Force satellites. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif., 20 January 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, the global leader in small satellite launch, has announced today that it will launch a dedicated mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The launch window is scheduled to open on 31 January NZDT and the mission, called ‘Birds of a Feather,’ will lift off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1.

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Spaceflight Inc. Closes 2019 with Three Successful Launches in One Week Across Three Continents

PSLV-C48 launch (Credit: ISRO)

SEATTLE, December 11, 2019 (Spaceflight PR) - - Spaceflight, the leading provider of mission management and rideshare integration services, today announced it successfully executed nine missions in 2019, the most rideshare launches the company has performed in one year, representing a 300 percent growth from the previous year.

The company ended last year with its historic dedicated rideshare mission, SSO-A, and continued to execute many more firsts in 2019. This includes the most recent accomplishment of manifesting and managing three rideshare launches in one week on three continents. The final missions of 2019 were SEOPS-2 (ISS SpX-19/NG-12) launched in the U.S., RL-2 (Rocket Lab’s “Running Out of Fingers”) launched in New Zealand, and PSLV-C48 launched in India.

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Rocket Lab Debuts Fully Autonomous Flight Termination System

Electron booster blasts into space. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Huntington Beach, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has flown a fully Autonomous Flight Termination System (AFTS) for the first time on an Electron launch vehicle. The AFTS flown on the company’s most recent mission, ‘Running Out Of Fingers’, makes Rocket Lab one of only three U.S. launch companies to fly with an autonomous system.

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Rocket Lab Opens Second Launch Complex on Wallops Island

Rocket Lab’s launch complex on Wallops Island. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Ten months after the first pilings were driven in, Rocket Lab declared its new launch complex on Wallops Island, Va., open and ready to serve the U.S. military’s need for rapid response launches with the company’s Electron booster.

“We’re proud to call Wallops Island in Virginia our home. We’re very proud to deliver a new launch capability to the United States. We’re very proud to support U.S. missions with a U.S. launch vehicle on U.S. soil,” CEO Peter Beck said during a press conference.

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Rocket Lab, OSIRIS-REx and Starliner Announcements Set for Thursday

Launch complexes on Wallops Island, Virginia

There are three major events that you can tune in for on Thursday.

Rocket Lab Wallops Launch Complex
11 a.m. EST
www.rocketlabusa.com

CEO Peter Beck will host a webcast from Wallops Island, Va., to open the company’s new launch complex and announce the first flight of the Electron booster from U.S. soil.

This artist’s concept shows the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft contacting the asteroid Bennu with the Touch-And-Go Sample Arm Mechanism or TAGSAM. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

NASA OSIRIS-REx Sampling Site
1 p.m. EST
http://nasa.gov/live

NASA will announced the site where OSIRIS-REx will collect a soil sample from asteroid Bennu.

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft rolls out from the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credits: Boeing)

NASA Boeing CST-100 Starliner Mission Preview
2 p.m. EST (approximate)
https://www.nasa.gov/live

NASA and Boeing officials will hold a news teleconference for the upcoming CST-100 Starliner orbital test flight to the International Space Station on Dec. 20.

The teleconference will begin no earlier than 2 p.m. EST, or approximately one hour after the flight readiness review ends. The start time will be adjusted as necessary.