Public fireworks shows may be in short supply this weekend due to the pandemic, but Rocket Lab is ready to fill the gap. It’s planning to launch its 13th mission, “Pics Or It Didn’t Happen,” from a complex on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula at 5:19PM Eastern with a livestream (below) available 15 minutes before takeoff. The launch window is open until 6:03PM Eastern. This is only the third Rocket Lab launch this year, due in no small part to the pandemic, and it includes some significant payloads.
The main payload is a Canon satellite, CE-SAT-IB, that will demo high-res and wide angle cameras for Earth imaging — if all goes well, this will pave the way for mass production. Planet, the company behind the largest network of Earth observation satellites, is also including five of its newest-generation SuperDove satellites. It’s also an important mission for the UK with In-Space launching its first Faraday cubesat mission to help startups and researchers get payloads into orbit.
This is a more conservative launch than those seen in recent months, as Rocket Lab won’t try to recover a vehicle in mid-air. Its cargo could have a lasting impact on humanity’s ability to study the environment and urban development, though, and it’s further evidence that spaceflight is carrying on in at least some parts of the world.