Rocket Lab is targeting no earlier than 22:35, Friday April 29, UTC (10:35 am, Saturday April 30, NZST) for the launch of ‘There and Back Again,’ a rideshare mission for a variety of customers.
This is a recovery mission where — for the first time — Rocket Lab will attempt to capture Electron’s first stage in mid-air by helicopter as it returns to Earth.
The launch will take place from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 Pad A on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula.
A two-hour, five-minute window has been allocated for launch.
- UTC: 22:35 (29 April)
- NZST: 10:35 (30 April)
- EDT: 18:35 (29 April)
- PDT: 15:35 (29 April)
There are launch back up opportunities through the end of April and early May, should such be needed to stand down for any reason.
The “There and Back Again” mission will be Rocket Lab’s 26th Electron launch and will deploy 34 satellites to SSO for a variety of customers that include Alba Orbital, Astrix Astronautics, Aurora Propulsion Technologies, E-Space, Spaceflight Inc., and Unseenlabs, bringing the total number of satellites launched by Electron to 146.
“There And Back Again” is also a recovery mission where, for the first time, Rocket Lab will attempt a mid-air capture of Electron’s first stage as it returns from space using parachutes and a helicopter.
Like previous recovery missions, Electron’s first stage will undertake a series of complex maneuvers designed to enable it to survive the extreme heat and forces of atmospheric re-entry. Electron will be equipped with a heat shield to help protect the stage’s nine Rutherford engines and a parachute to slow Electron down in order for Rocket Lab’s customized Sikorsky S-92 helicopter to catch the stage as it returns.
Upon success of this recovery, Electron will be one step closer to being the first reusable orbital small sat launcher.
A live webcast will be available approximately 20 minutes prior to the target T-0 time at this direct link…
An attempt will be made to provide a live view of the catch from the helicopter; however, due to the remote location where the capture will take place, Rocket Lab does expect some video loss.