Rocket Lab has added another successful commercial launch to its track record: The rocket startup’s “As The Crow Flies” mission took off today from its LC-1 launch site in New Zealand as planned. The rocket took off at 9:22 PM ET (6:22 PM PT), during its second launch opportunity of the day after the first window was pushed due to high-altitude winds.
This is the ninth Electron launch for the company thus far, and the eighth mission for a commercial customer (the first was a test mission in 2017) since it began ferrying payloads for paying clients in 2018. Today’s launch carried a satellite called “Palisade” for client Astro Digital, which is a technology demonstrator that will test the company’s next-generation geocommunications satellite design.
This mission was a late-stage substitute, swapping in for another Rocket Lab client that had to delay their own launch. Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck told TechCrunch that “Electron is a launch on demand service — we’re ready when the launch customer is,” highlighting the flexibility of the launch service they offer to adapt to the needs of their customers.
After successful launch and kick-stage separation, the Astro Digital satellite now awaits its final deployment into its target orbit, which should happen in the next few hours. We’ll update with the results of that maneuver.