Here at Stardome, we watch Rocket Lab and their every move like a hawk. We love knowing what’s going on in the world of space exploration and innovation and this interest skyrockets when some of it is happening in our very own backyard. 

Rocket Lab New Zealand's Place in Space

We were ecstatic when Rocket Lab successfully launch their Electron ‘It’s a Test’ in May 2017. This was followed by the second test, ‘Still Testing’ in January 2018, which successfully reached orbit and deployed commercial payloads for Spire Global and Planet. We now eagerly await the launch of Rocket Lab’s next mission ‘It’s Business Time’, which is their first fully commercial flight.

The launch window for this was initially scheduled for 20 April – 3 May 2018. However, the window was postponed after unusual behaviour in a motor controller was identified during a wet dress rehearsal. Since then, the cause of the issue has been identified, corrective measures put in place and the next launch window has been announced for 23 June – 6 July (NZST). Launch opportunities within these days will be between 12:30 and 16:30 daily, so you can have a tab on your work computer minimised ready to be opened once you hear the countdown!

Originally, ‘It’s Business Time’ would carry two Lemur-2 satellites from Spire Global and a GeoOptics Inc. satellite built by Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems. However, additional customers have since been added to the launch manifest. One being IRVINE01, an educational payload from the Irvine CubeSat STEM Program. This is a joint educational endeavour which aims to teach, train and inspire the next generation of STEM professionals. Aboard IRVINE01 is a low-resolution camera ready to take pictures of celestial objects, including Venus. Another added payload is NABEO, a drag sail technology demonstrator, which is a system created to passively de-orbit inactive small satellites. NABEO is designed and built by High Performance Space Structure Systems GmBH.

Rocket Lab continue to respond rapidly to an ever-evolving small satellite market and the recently added payloads to ‘It’s Business Time’ reflect this. Founder and CEO, Peter Beck says “Rocket Lab’s responsive space model is crucial to support the exponential growth of the small satellite market. That a customer can come to us seeking a ride to orbit and we can have them booked to launch in weeks is unheard of in the launch business”

The countdown is on until Rocket Lab, once again, put New Zealand on the map. ‘It’s Business Time’ will launch from Launch Complex-1, located at the tip of Mahia Peninsula on the East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island. It’s the world’s only private orbital launch facility and quite possibly the most beautiful also! (we are biased, of course.)

Want to know more? Read up on the payloads aboard “It’s Business Time” here.

Image credits: Rocket Lab. L: It’s Business Time Mission Badge. R(and front blog image tile): Electron ‘Still Testing’ lift-off.