Due to weather challenges, Rocket Lab is pushing the launch of their “There and Back Again” rideshare mission to no earlier than May 1st, with a launch window of 22:35 – 00:40 UTC / 10:35 – 12:40 NZST, for this 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.
New launch window:
- UTC: 22:35 (1 May)
- NZST: 10:35 (2 May)
- EDT: 18:35 (1 May)
- PDT: 15:35 (1 May)
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.