Rocket Lab's New Zealand rocket launch scrubbed again

Published: Dec. 11, 2017 at 4:40 PM

Brooks Hays

Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Aerospace startup company Rocket Lab has once again postponed the launch of its Electron rocket after computers automatically triggered an abort just moments before the boosters were ignited.

According to the company, a new launch window will open on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET, 2:30 p.m. New Zealand time Thursday.

Last week, the launch was delayed because the company "needed more time." Earlier this week, another attempt was scrubbed when the International Space Station got in the way.

Whenever the rocket finally does launch, the blastoff and flight will be streamed live on Rocket Lab's website.

The most recent aborted launch was broadcast live.

"As you can see, the vehicle had an abort during the launch auto sequence," Daniel Gillies, Rocket Lab's mission management and integration director, said during the launch's webcast. "At this stage of flight, the vehicle flight computer is actively monitoring a wide range of vehicle performance parameters, and when any of these parameters are violated, the vehicle determines that its not ready of flight and holds the count."

Rocket Lab is based in the United States but operates a New Zealand subsidiary. If and when the Electron blastoff happens, the rocket will release a trio of satellites belonging to the startup's first clients, the companies Planet and Spire.

The payload includes Planet's Earth-imaging Dove satellite and two Lemur-2 satellites made by Spire. The two Lemur-2 satellites can map weather and track ships.

Despite the cargo, the company still considers the launch a test. In fact, they've dubbed the launch "Still Testing."

"Still Waiting" might be a more apt name.

The company was originally supposed to send Electron to space last week, but delays continue to push back the launch.

The company warned its clients and those excited to see a launch that patience would be required.

"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," Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, said in a statement.

The company can't keep scrubbing the launch forever. The broader launch period only lasts until Dec. 17.

Rocket Lab aims to provide launch services to smaller satellites, or what are often called CubeSats. The company believes its smaller rockets will offer the launch schedule flexibility that makers of the toaster-sized satellites want. The company also hopes to lower the financial barrier to entry for space research.

"As the name suggests, we are still very much in a test phase, but this flight is a significant milestone for our team and the next step in our mission to democratize space," Beck said.

Electron is a tow-stage rocket. It's 55 feet tall and can manage payloads of up to 550 pounds.

During the inaugural test flight of Electron, the rocket made it to the edge of space but failed to enter orbit.

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