Rocket Lab will begin its 25th mission Friday using the Electron rocket, this time to send two Earth-imaging spacecraft into orbit around BlackSky. The launch, the second of 2022 for Rocket Lab, will bring BlackSky’s high-resolution satellite constellation to 14.
Dubbed “Without Mission A Beat”, the mission will depart at 12:35 UTC (8:35 a.m. ET) from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula. The pair of BlackSky satellites will be deployed in an orbit of 430 kilometers (270 miles).
The company will not attempt to restore Electron’s first stage during this mission, although Rocket Lab has been working on reusing the first stage for Electron since 2018. The company’s long-term vision is to restore the first stage via an aerial helicopter capture, a maneuver it has steadily progressed in recent years. Last November, Rocket Lab performed its third booster recovery (the only other company besides SpaceX to achieve reusability), with a helicopter stationed in the recovery zone to track the booster’s descent.
Beck told reporters that the company will likely try the aerial catch in the first half of this year.
This isn’t the first time Rocket Lab has delivered a payload to space for BlackSky. The launch company has supplied most of the BlackSky satellites currently in orbit, with the first launch for the geospatial intelligence company in 2019.
The launch will be streamed on the company’s website and its YouTube channel, and thenewsupdate will post the stream at the top of this page once it goes live.