Watch Rocket Lab launch Earth-observing radar satellite this month after delay (Image Credit: Space.com)
Update for 12:45 a.m. EDT on Aug. 6: Rocket Lab has scrubbed its planned Aug. 6 liftoff of the “We Love the Nightlife” mission “due to out-of-family sensor data.” No new target launch date has been announced.
Rocket Lab will launch an Earth-observing radar satellite for the company Capella Space early Sunday morning (Aug. 6), and you can watch the action live.
An Electron rocket carrying one of Capella Space’s “Acadia” satellites is scheduled to lift off from Rocket Lab’s New Zealand site Sunday during a two-hour window that opens at 1 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT; 5 p.m. local New Zealand time).
Sunday morning’s launch will be Rocket Lab’s eighth of 2023 and the company’s 40th overall. All of these missions have involved Electron, a 59-foot-tall (18 meters) rocket designed to give small satellites dedicated rides to orbit (and beyond; an Electron launched the CAPSTONE moon mission in June 2022).
Rocket Lab calls the coming mission “We Love the Nightlife,” an apparent reference to the ability of Capella Space’s synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites to capture imagery when and where the sun doesn’t shine.
“Capella’s advanced radar technology penetrates all weather conditions — clouds, fog, smoke, rain — and captures clear imagery day and night, providing unparalleled insight into what is happening anywhere on the globe at any given moment,” Rocket Lab wrote in the mission’s press kit, which you can find here.
“We Love the Nightlife” will be Rocket Lab’s third mission for Capella Space, and the first of four planned launches to deliver Acadia satellites to orbit for the San Francisco-based company.
“The next-generation Acadia satellites include several new features that will enable faster downlink speeds and even higher-quality images for fast, reliable insights that are easily accessible through Capella’s fully automated ordering and delivery platform,” Rocket Lab wrote in the press kit.
If all goes according to plan on Sunday morning, the Acadia spacecraft will be deployed into a circular orbit 398 miles (640 kilometers) above Earth 57.5 minutes after liftoff.
Rocket Lab is working to make Electron’s first stage reusable. To this end, the company has recovered Electron boosters on a handful of missions to date, including its most recent one, “Baby Come Back,” which launched on July 17.
But there will be no such recovery operations on “We Love the Nightlife,” Rocket Lab representatives said in an emailed update on July 27.