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Rocket Lab announces second test launch window on Mahia Peninsula

04 Dec 2017

Rocket Lab, a US aerospace company with operations in New Zealand, will open a ten-day launch window from Friday, December 8, 2017, to carry out the company’s second test launch of the Electron rocket.

During this time, a four-hour launch window will open daily from 2.30 pm.

The test launch, titled ‘Still Testing’, will take place from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 on the Māhia Peninsula, New Zealand.

It follows on from the successful inaugural Electron test carried out on May 25, 2017.

Still Testing will be the first Rocket Lab launch to be live streamed to the public.

A live video stream will be available approximately 15 minutes prior to a launch attempt on the Rocket Lab website.

The test launch attempt will only proceed if conditions are ideal for launch.

Due to the nature of launching rockets, planned lift-offs are often subject to multiple and subsequent postponements, or scrubs, to allow for small, technical modifications and to wait for ideal weather conditions.

Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO, says the test is an important next step in making space more accessible and the team will be focusing on gathering more data to inform future launches.

“Electron’s first test made history when it became the first orbital-class launch vehicle to reach space from a private launch facility.

“We analysed more than 25,000 channels of data from flight one, and we’re eager to learn more from this test flight,” says Beck.

“This is the first test carrying customer payloads and we’ll be monitoring everything closely as we attempt to reach orbit,” he says.

“Once again, we’re expecting to scrub multiple times as we wait for perfect conditions and make sure everything on the vehicle is performing as it should.”

As part of the launch attempt, Māhia East Coast Road will be closed to the public at certain times.

Full details of road closures can be found on the Rocket Lab website.

Safety is of utmost concern to Rocket Lab and the public are asked to follow the instructions of emergency services and remain in specified safety zones during the test launch.

Still Testing is the second of three test launches planned from Launch Complex 1 ahead of commercial operations, however, if the vehicle performs nominally throughout the second test the commercial phase may be accelerated.

Still Testing will carry an Earth-imaging Dove satellite for Planet and two Lemur-2 satellites for Spire for weather and ship tracking, enabling Rocket Lab to gather crucial data and test systems for the deployment stage of a mission. 

Rocket Lab thanks the Māhia community for its hospitality, and is grateful for the support of staff and volunteers from police, fire service, the volunteer fire brigade, St John's, the harbour master, Wairoa District Council, Hawke's Bay Regional Council, MBIE, LINZ, DPMC, Maritime NZ, RCCNZ, CAA and Airways NZ.

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