"Another One Leaves The Crust" launches from New Zealand
At 2:27am EST, Rocket Lab's Electron rocket lifted off from the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand after fighting with some strong ground winds. Inside the fairing of Electron, sits a single communication micro satellite for OHB Group, through OHB Cosmos International Launch Service GmbH. After successfully deploying the satellite into a Polar Orbit around the Earth, that marks the first launch from Rocket Lab this year and the 18th launch of Electron.
The Electron rocket is a 2 stage launch vehicle manufactured in the United States and launches from New Zealand and soon Wallops Island, VA. The first stage is comprised of 9 Rutherford Sea Level Engines that burn for 2.5 minutes on ascent, powered by electric turbopumps. The second stage is powered by 1 Rutherford engine, optimized with a larger engine bell for use in vacuum. This vacuum optimized engine is also powered by an electric turbopump, carrying extra batteries which separate from the vehicle when depleted.
Rocket Lab doesn't recover all their first stages yet, but they have been experimenting with it and have successfuly brought 1 stage back from an operational mission last year. Unlike SpaceX, who lands their boosters propulsively with engines, Electrons first stage falls back through the atmosphere with a parafoil, and will be caught by a helicopter. The first recovery attempt was a soft splashdown in the ocean under regular parachutes.