New Zealand Based Rocket Labs Is Set Launch a Rocket in Māhia
Ahead of the planned test launch of Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket the EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) has confirmed that it has received the correct paperwork for a rocket launch in New Zealand. Have you ever wondered what the paperwork for a space launch might look like? I have. Turns out it’s pretty standard stuff.
Rocket Lab’s attempt will be a world first attempt to send a vehicle into orbit from a private launch facility. We can’t give specific dates but the launch window is set between from 9.00am May 22, until 5.00pm June 2.
If you were hoping to get a visual on the launch then you better be happy with standing a long way off. Launch Complex 1 will not be visible during a launch from any publicly-accessible point on the Mahia Peninsula during the test window
Temporary road closures will be in place for traffic management and to ensure the safety of vehicles on the Mahia East Coast Road, and the unformed Tawapata Road, on launch attempt days. The narrow, unsealed and winding roads are unsuited to high-levels of traffic and authorities anticipate an increase in vehicles on the Peninsula. Road closures and traffic management will take effect six hours before scheduled lift-off.
This is a test launch and during the 10 day window the mission can be scrubbed due to weather up to .1 second before launch.
The Electron itself is 1.2 metres wide and 17 metres tall. It’s an entirely carbon-composite vehicle that uses Rocket Lab’s 3D-printed Rutherford engines for its main propulsion system. The Electron vehicle is designed to carry payloads, such as small satellites, to a low orbit. Owing to the modern design and construction of the Electron – rapid and scalable manufacture with high levels of automation is possible.
At ignition, a deluge of water used to protect the launch pad and suppress exhaust noise will be vapourised into large billowing white clouds of steam. After the engines have burned for a couple of seconds to confirm nominal thrust levels, the Electron will be released and begin to climb from the pad. It will ascend away from the steam cloud, supported by an intensely bright white-orange plume and leaving little or no smoke trail.
The climb will be slow at first, taking approximately three seconds to clear the 4-storey tall launch tower. As the rocket climbs and becomes lighter it will accelerate, reaching a commercial airliner’s typical cruising altitude in approximately one minute.
Once it has left the thicker parts of the atmosphere, the rocket will begin to turn south and start building up the 27,000km/h horizontal velocity in order to achieve orbit. Observers on the ground may see the rocket turn and fly towards the southern horizon.