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The launch of the Rocket Lab test was stopped by naval traffic and the weather deteriorated – Spaceflight Now

Rocket Lab's second electronic rocket emits oxygen fumes during a braked launch attempt on Friday, US time (Saturday in New Zealand). Credit: Rocket Lab

An attempt to place three small satellites in orbit on an experimental test flight stopped on Friday after two ships were diverted to an exclusion zone at Rocket Lab's private launch base in New Zealand , which delayed the electronic impulse. Second demonstration mission at least 24 hours.

The countdown stopped less than one minute before a planned takeoff at 10:10 p.m. m. EST Friday (0310 GMT, 4:10 pm New Zealand time on Saturday) after officials detected two ships within a danger zone in the Pacific Ocean from the Rocket Lab launch pad in New Zealand.

Security teams helped get the ships out of the area, and the countdown was reset for another launch attempt. But the engineers stopped the countdown again to study an avionics problem related to cameras.

The Rocket Lab team decided to reschedule the launch for Saturday, US time, while clouds and unfavorable winds were passing over the remote base of rockets on the Mahia Peninsula. , a formation on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand.

"The team has been forced to mop up today's launch by following the automatic abortion of automatic sequences that was convened due to two rebel vessels in the last two minutes of the count," said Daniel Gillies, director of management and integration of the mission of Rocket Lab, who provided feedback on the Internet transmission of the company's countdown. "The team was able to prepare the vehicle for another launch attempt, however, the time required to clear both boats, combined with the weather, meant that we lost our ideal launch opportunity for the day."

Authorities are looking for an "ideal" weather condition for the second flight of the Electron rocket – nicknamed "Still Testing by Rocket Lab."

The next four-hour launch window opens at 8:30 pm EST Saturday (0130 GMT; 2:30 pm New Zealand time on Sunday).

The 55-foot-high (17-meter) Electron rocket is designed to deploy relatively light payloads in orbit, filling a niche in the market. commercial launch, which is currently dominated by larger launchers, Rocket Lab aims to sell Electron flights to satellite operators for $ 4.9 million per launch, a fraction of the price of any other rocket in service today.

Electron's second test flight follows the rocket's inaugural launch in May 2017, when the initiator reached the space, but did not reach the speed required to enter orbit. Rocket Lab blamed the failure of a ground tracking error that caused controllers to lose communications with the vehicle several minutes after takeoff, prompting a safety officer to follow pre-established procedures and issue a command to end the flight .

up to that point, demonstrating the performance of its first stage and partially demonstrating the design of its second stage.

The two-stage Electron rocket is powered by Rutherford motors developed by Rocket Lab. Power plants consume kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants.

Three CubeSats owned by Spire Global and Planet, two San Francisco-based companies, are stored aboard the second Electron rocket, targeting a polar-type orbit between 186 miles and 310 miles (300-500 kilometers) above the Earth.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1 .

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