Rocket Lab’s 30th Electron rocket senses a satellite radar soaring toward Earth orbit Thursday (Sept. 15).
Tea Electron booster lifted off from Rocket Lab’s New Zealand site on the North Island’s Mahia Peninsula on Thursday at 4:38 pm EDT (2038 GMT, or 8:38 am local time on Friday, Sept. 16).
The livestreamed launch of the Strix-1 satellite on behalf of Synspective showed the rocket flying into the blue sky, with no technical issues reported during the launch or during the countdown. As the launch window was instantaneous, everything had to go just right to allow the mission to proceed.
Related: Rocket Lab and its Electron booster (photos)
Thursday’s mission is called “The Owl Spreads Its Wings,” a nod to the Strix-1 payload. (Strix is a diverse and widespread genus of owls.)
“Strix-1 is Synspective’s first commercial satellite for its synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite constellation to deliver imagery that can detect millimeter-level changes to the Earth’s surface from space, independent of weather conditions on Earth and at any time of the day or night,” Rocket Lab officials wrote in a mission description (opens in new tab).
Rocket Lab also successfully lofted Strix satellites for Synspective in December 2020 and February 2022. Those missions were named with owl themes as well.
Rocket Lab officials framed this launch as a milestone mission: Thursday’s mission was Rocket Lab’s 30th Electron launch, bringing its 150th satellite into space and flying its 300th Rutherford engine.
The flight also follows Rocket Lab’s successful launch of NASA’s CAPSTONE probe to the moon. In addition, the company aims to send one or more life-hunting missions to Venus in the coming years.
Rocket Lab plans to make the first stage of Electron fully reusable, and has successfully fired up a booster recovered (and inadvertently dunked in the ocean) with a helicopter on May 2during a mission called “There and Back Again.”
The company did not attempt a recovery on Thursday’s launch, however, and Electron’s first stage fell naturally into the drink after engine cutoff.