Later tonight, Rocket Lab is going for a second attempt to launch their Electron rocket, after a second stage umbilical had an issue that caused them to stand down from launching on November 28th. This will be the 10th flight of the Electron rocket and is the first time an upgraded first stage is flying.
After successfully delivering the several small satellites for Alba Orbital and ALE Co., Ltd (ALE), the first stage of the Electron rocket will descend back down through Earth’s atmosphere. The newly-upgraded first stage is fitted with new hardware and sensors to monitor the environment and forces the first stage endures on its descent. This is the first step in developing the first stage further to survive reentry and make recovering the stage easier down the road. The stage is also fitted with reaction control thrusters to help orientate the first stage the correct way for reentry, as well as on the way down. Rocket Lab also mentioned on Twitter on November 28th, that there are cameras on the first stage to hopefully show us live footage of the reentry. The first stage won’t be recovered on this mission, just collecting data.
The launch will be taking place at 2:56am EST tonight from the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand; It’ll be about 8:56pm local time at the launch site.