Public fireworks shows may be in short supply this weekend due to the pandemic, but Rocket Lab is ready to fill the gap. Itâ€™s planning to launch its 13th mission, â€œPics Or It Didnâ€™t Happen,â€ from a complex on New Zealandâ€™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 â€” 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. Itâ€™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 wonâ€™t try to recover a vehicle in mid-air. Its cargo could have a lasting impact on humanityâ€™s ability to study the environment and urban development, though, and itâ€™s further evidence that spaceflight is carrying on in at least some parts of the world.