Rocket Lab canceled a launch attempt in New Zealand on Wednesday to assess unexpected sensor data, postponing a mission that would deliver 10 small commercial imaging satellites to Earth in orbit.
The California-based missile company plans to launch the mission during a window that opened Wednesday at 5:14 p.m. EDT (2114 GMT), or 10:14 a.m. local time Thursday at the Electron missile base in New Zealand.
The launch team began refueling the rocket with kerosene and liquid oxygen, after which officers shifted the launch time to the end of the window on Wednesday. Rocket Lab has finally announced that the mission will have to wait another day to take off.
We deviate from today’s experience. Some sensors return data that we want to look at later. We have backup options until November 3. Stay tuned for updates on the new launch date! #InFocus pic.twitter.com/ThqsMzsJcs
– Rocket Lab (@RocketLab) October 21, 2020
Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, tweeted that the company had cleared Wednesday’s launch attempt to keep it safe.
When the mission erupts, the nearly 60-meter (18-meter) rocket Electron will curve south of Rocket Lab’s private spaceport on the Mahiya Peninsula on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand.
The upper stage of the Electron rocket will place 10 small satellites in polar orbit with a height of 310 miles (500 kilometers). The mission will be the 15th launch of the Rocket Lab Electron booster from May 2017.
The largest spacecraft in the mission is CE-SAT-2B, an Earth observation satellite for Japan’s Canon Electronics.
The 78-kilogram (35.5-kilogram) microsatellite sits on top of the rocket. CE-SAT-2B is Canon’s third microsatellite launched after an experimental spacecraft launched in 2017 with an Indian PSLV rocket, and a subsequent satellite launched in July with a previous Rocket Lab mission.
The CE-SAT 1B satellite, launched in July, was destroyed when the Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket failed before reaching orbit.
According to Canon, the CE-SAT-2B carries three types of cameras to be demonstrated in orbit.
“With the newly developed super-sensitive camera, the CE-SAT-2B is capable of observing the Earth at night,” Canon said in a statement. “The satellite is equipped with three types of cameras, including a Canon SLR camera and a compact digital camera.
“The CE-SAT-2B will go through a two-year demonstration experiment for the upcoming production of cassegrain reflectors as a series,” said Canon.
Spaceflight, a Seattle-based broker, organized the launch of CE-SAT-2B with Rocket Lab.
Nine SuperDove Earth imaging satellites – each the size of a large shoebox – are also housed in Maxwell’s dispatchers on top of the Electron rocket. The SuperDove payloads built and owned by Planet will replace five similar satellites – commonly known as the “Flock 4e” – which were also lost in the failed Rocket Lab mission in July.
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