Rocket laboratory will launch an ambitious mission today (November 19) and you can watch the action live.
The California-based company Electronic amplifier is scheduled to take off on Thursday from the Rocket Lab launch site in New Zealand during a nearly three-hour window that opens at 8:44 PM EST (0144 GMT on November 20). You can watch it live here on Space.com, courtesy of Rocket Lab, or directly through the company.
The two-stage Electron will carry 30 satellites into orbit for a wide range of customers – and the first stage of the booster will return to Earth for control, parachuting into the ocean when its upward work is completed.
Connected: Rocket Lab and its booster Electron (photos)
The Rocket Lab staff will then pull the booster out of the sea and pull it back to shore for inspection.
“This will be the first time Rocket Lab has tried to rebuild the post-launch phase and is an important milestone in Rocket Lab̵
Thursday’s release will not be the first test of reusable technology. The company has already managed the first stages without a parachute in a controlled manner during operational missions and detached falling mannequin first stage from the sky by helicopter – the ultimate planned booster recovery strategy – during a crash test.
The 57 meter (17 meter) high Electron gives small satellites dedicated to orbit. Implementing the first phase of the rocket for the first time for multiple use would allow Rocket Lab to increase its launch frequency and possibly also significantly reduce costs, said the company’s founder and CEO Peter Beck.
Return to Sender will be Electron’s 16th mission. The 30 satellites will be in a circular orbit about 310 miles (500 kilometers) above Earth, if all goes according to plan.
These payloads include two satellites for TriSept’s Drag Racer mission, which will test the effectiveness of long-distance connections as a way to support deorbit satellites; two maritime surveillance spacecraft for the French company Unseenlabs, which aims to help expose illegal fishing; 24 of Swarm Technologies’ SpaceBee satellites, which are designed to provide Internet of Things communication services worldwide; a satellite built by students at the University of Auckland in New Zealand that will test a possible link between earthquakes and atmospheric disturbances; and a 3D-printed table-based simulator designed as Gnome Chompski from the Half-Life video game series (which won’t actually be deployed, but rather will return to Earth with Electron’s “impact phase”).
Editor’s note: This story was updated on November 18 with the new mission launch date of November 19.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out there“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book on the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow it on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.