Rocket Lab is launching their first dedicated mission for the NRO tonight


Photo: Rocket Lab

Update 8:05pm ET: Currently in a hold due to ground winds, establishing a new T-0. Launch window is open until 11pm ET.

Update 6:17pm ET: liftoff is now set for 8:22pm ET

Tonight at 7:01pm ET, Rocket Lab is launching their Electron rocket from Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand. The satellite they're launching is NROL-151 for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and will be the first time Rocket Lab will be launching a high-class payload of this kind. This is also their first launch of 2020.

The NRO awarded this contract to Rocket Lab under the "Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket" (RASR) contract vehicle. This contract allows the NRO to look at new launch opportunities that'll provide a streamlines and commercial approach for launching small satellites into orbit.

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is a US government agency in charge of designing, building, launch, and maintaining America's intelligence satellites.

This will also be the second time they will be guiding the first stage through recovery and recording data during the entry and free-fall of the rocket. This will help them gather more data for upcoming full-recovery tests. While they will not be recovering this stage, we will hopefully have a live-feed during the reentry of the vehicle. A live broadcast of the mission can be found at rocketlabusa.com/live-stream.


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