US spaceflight startup Rocket Lab is rescheduling its first commercial rocket launch once again. The company tried to get this flight off the ground twice this year, but weird behavior on Rocket Lab’s launch vehicle forced the company to stand down from both launch attempts. Now, changes have been made to the rocket to avoid this problem, and the company says it’s ready to try again later this November.
In fact, the company hopes to do two back-to-back missions just weeks apart before the end of 2018. The first commercial flight, dubbed It’s Business Time, will be followed by one for NASA in December. The two missions will take off from Rocket Lab’s private launch facility in New Zealand, called Launch Complex 1. And if both flights go up as planned, it will be the fastest turnaround yet for Rocket Lab, which has only conducted two test flights so far, which were about eight months apart.
Rocket Lab says it has since analyzed the motors and made changes to their design to get rid of the behavior. The motors have also gone through a new type of qualification testing ahead of the November launch.
When It’s Business Timedoestake off, it’ll carry five small satellites to orbit. Two will come from manufacturer Spire Global, which makes probes to track ships, planes, and weather. The flight will also include a satellite designed to test out a new type of space sail, which could be used by future manufacturers to help slow down probes in space and bring satellites out of orbit more quickly.
Right after It’s Business Time takes flight, Rocket Lab plans to quickly conduct its scheduled launch for NASA. The mission, known as the 19th Educational Launch of Nanosatellites, or ELaNa-XIX, will carry 10 standardized satellites known as CubeSats that will conduct different types of research from space. The small probes will do everything from monitoring space weather — when particles from the Sun mingle with the particles surrounding Earth — to measuring the radiation environment around our planet.
“It’s an incredibly exciting time for the small satellite industry,” Beck said. “Everyone on the planet will benefit from easier access to orbit in terms of innovation, research and exploration, and we’re excited to be the team enabling that.”