Rocket Lab will attempt the tenth launch of its Electron rocket from Mahia at 9.20 tonight as a launch window opens for its “Running Out of Fingers” mission.
The launch window will run through to December 12.
The mission will be a “massive milestone” given its 100 per cent success rate at getting 40 satellites into space on its “ride-share” missions, founder and Peter Beck told the Herald last week.
It will also be an early step towards recovering the Electron Rocket’s 12.1m tall first stage rather than have it disintegrate as it falls to earth.
Beck said it’s a massive change to the programme with the rocket having new monitoring equipment aboard it.
The rocket will be monitored from ground stations and also an aircraft in the middle of the ocean to get as much data from the stage before it burns up.
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In later launches, the stage will use a reaction control system, which supplies small amounts of thrust in any desired direction, to allow a controlled re-entry. It will be recovered by a helicopter as it drifts back to earth after deploying parachutes.
The Sun said ALE-2 would provide artificial meteor showers for the “mega rich” on-demand, at the location of their choice. The satellite will shoot pellets into the atmosphere to simulate shooting stars.
Space Minister Phil Twyford, who must sign off on every satellite carried by every Rocket Lab mission, earlier this month told the Herald he had no problem giving ALE-2 the tick.
“I carefully consider all space activity on a case-by-case basis to ensure they are safe, sustainable, and responsible, and meet our regulatory requirements,” Twyford said.
“I approved this payload after the New Zealand Space Agency [part of MBIE] undertook a detailed months-long analysis of any environmental and legal considerations. This analysis found the activity proposed is safe, any orbital debris risks have been mitigated and it complies with our international obligations.
“There are no environmental concerns, as the small pellets will burn up entirely in the atmosphere. The localised and short duration of the artificial meteor shower means the light pollution impact is negligible.”
The Space Agency also consulted with international counterparts, in particular the Japanese Government, which has also licensed this payload, Twyford said.