Rocket Lab will embark on its 25th mission using the Electron rocket on Friday, this time to send two Earth-imaging spacecraft to orbit for BlackSky. The launch, the second of 2022 for Rocket Lab, will bring BlackSky’s high-resolution satellite constellation to 14.
The mission, named “Without Mission A Beat,” will embark from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula at 12:35 UTC (8:35 a.m. ET). The pair of BlackSky satellites will be deployed at a 430-kilometer (270-mile) orbit.
The company will not attempt to recover Electron’s first stage during this mission, though Rocket Lab has been working on first-stage reuse for Electron since 2018. The company’s long-term vision is to recover the first stage via a mid-air helicopter capture, a maneuver its been inching toward over the past few years. Last November, Rocket Lab executed its third recovery of the booster (the only other company besides SpaceX to achieve reusability), with a chopper stationed in the recovery zone to monitor the booster’s descent.
Beck told reporters that the company will likely attempt the mid-air catch within the first half of this year.
This is not the first time Rocket Lab has delivered a payload to space for BlackSky. The launch company has delivered the majority of BlackSky’s satellites currently in orbit, with the first launch for the geospatial intelligence company taking place in 2019.
The launch will stream on the company’s website and on its YouTube channel, and TechCrunch will throw the stream at the top of this page once it goes live.
Edit: The successful launch took place Saturday, not Friday, to avoid bad weather.