Rocket Lab plans return to flight

Looks like Don’t Stop Me Now can’t be stopped.

The Electron Rocket for Rocket Lab’s 12th Electron Mission, Don’t Stop Me Now. Credit: Rocket Lab

JUNE 2, 2020– Rocket Lab has announced a return to flight of the Electron rocket with a new launch date of Don’t Stop Me Now, Electron’s 12th flight. Electron, which was previously scheduled to launch on March 30, will now launch on June 11, 2020, per Space News. The reason for this delay was a lockdown imposed by the New Zealand Government in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. According to Rocket Lab, this mission will have a launch window from June 11th to June 24th and will launch from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1A in New Zealand.

The Don’t Stop Me Now Mission patch. Credit: Rocket Lab

This Electron mission is a rideshare mission, which Rocket Lab says is launching multiple small satellites. Satellites include the ANDESITE satellite from Boston University, which will use sensors to measure factors of the magnetosphere, three classified payloads for the National Reconnaissance Office, and the M2 Pathfinder Satellite, which was built in collaboration by the University of New South Wales and the Australian government.

Rocket Lab CEO Peter J. Beck commented on the payloads and mission, saying the mission is “a great example of the kind of cutting-edge research and fast-paced innovation that small satellites are enabling,” going on to say “We created Electron to make getting to space easy for all, so it’s gratifying to be meeting the needs of national security payloads and student research projects on the same mission.”

Electron is a two-stage small-sat rocket built to launch small satellites into orbit. This rocket is meant to fly frequently, with a first stage powered by nine Rutherford engines and a second stage powered by a vacuum Rutherford engine. Electron is the lightest consistently operating launch vehicle right now, weighing in at 12,500 kg.

This mission is named “Don’t Stop Me Now” in honor of Scott Smith, a Rocket Lab Board member who recently passed away. Smith was a fan of the band Queen.

The mission will not have a recovery test. Rocket Lab is targeting later this year for a full recovery attempt of Electron, which will use a parachute to be caught by a helicopter.

Go Electron. Go Rocket Lab.

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