Scheduled to lift-off from Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula on Nov. 17 at 8:10 p.m. EST, the ‘Love At First Insight’ mission will be Rocket Lab’s 22nd Electron launch overall and fifth mission of 2021.
The ‘Love At First Insight’ mission is the latest in a multi-launch agreement signed earlier this year for BlackSky between Rocket Lab and Spaceflight Inc., which is providing integration and mission management services for BlackSky. This mission will deploy the eighth and ninth satellites of BlackSky’s planned constellation as part of that rapid-launch agreement, with another four Gen-2 smallsats across the two additional Electron dedicated missions to follow.
Rocket Lab will also attempt a controlled ocean splashdown and recovery of Electron’s first stage, the latest in Rocket Lab’s program to make Electron the first reusable orbital launch vehicle dedicated to small satellites. The mission will be Rocket Lab’s third ocean recovery of an Electron stage; however, it will be the first time a helicopter will be stationed in the recovery zone around 200 nautical miles offshore to track and visually observe a descending stage in preparation for future aerial capture attempts. The helicopter will not attempt a mid-air capture for this mission but will test communications and tracking to refine the concept of operations (CONOPS) for future Electron aerial capture.