List of Electron launches

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Launch of Electron in start of the "Birds of the Feather" mission.

Electron is a two-stage small-lift launch vehicle built and operated by Rocket Lab. The rocket has flown 32 times with 29 successes and 3 failures.

The first flight, known as "It's a Test", launched on 25 May 2017. The mission failed due to a glitch in communication equipment on the ground. Successful follow-on missions, including "Still Testing", "It's Business Time" and "This One's For Pickering", delivered multiple small payloads to low Earth orbit. The 13th mission, "Pics Or It Didn't Happen", failed during flight.[1] Rocket Lab subsequently returned to flight, launching the 14th mission two months later.[2] The 20th mission, dubbed "Running Out Of Toes", experienced a failure just right after second stage ignition. Flight 26 was the first Electron flight to attempt a full catch recovery using a mid-air helicopter catch.

Launch statistics[edit]

Past launches[edit]

2017–2018[edit]

Electron experienced its first successful launch in January 2018, and launched their first mission for NASA in December 2018.

Flight No. Name Date/time
(UTC)
Launch site Payload Payload mass Destination Customer(s) Launch outcome Booster recovery
1 "It's a Test" 25 May 2017, 04:20 [3] Mahia, LC-1A None None 500 km, 85° LEO Rocket Lab (flight test) Failure No attempt
The rocket successfully launched and performed first stage separation and fairing separation. After reaching an altitude of about 224 kilometres (139 mi) (planned 500 kilometres (310 mi) at 85° inclination),[4] the telemetry feed to the range safety officer was lost and the rocket was destroyed by range safety officer.[5][6] Post-flight analysis determined the issue to be a simple ground software failure rather than a problem with the rocket.[7] The ground software issue was found to be a contractor's failure to enable forward error correction on their hardware leading to data corruption.[7][8] Rocket Lab made no changes to the Electron vehicle and instead implemented adjustment to procedures to prevent similar problems.[7]
2 "Still Testing" 21 January 2018, 01:43 [9] Mahia, LC-1A 13 kg (29 lb) [11] LEO Success No attempt
Carrying CubeSats for Planet Labs and Spire Global.[12] The two Lemur-2 satellites were put into a circularized orbit by the new "Electron kick stage" which was not announced until after the launch.[13] Between December 2017 and January 2018 the launch was delayed six times due to weather, orbital traffic, rocket, and range safety issues.[14][15][16][17] Put Lemur-2 payloads into 500 km (310 mi) high orbit at 85.0° inclination while the Dove Pioneer satellite was put into a 289 km (180 mi) x 533 km (331 mi).[4][18]
3 "It's Business Time"[19] 11 November 2018, 03:50 Mahia, LC-1A[19][20]
Approx 45 kilograms (99 lb)[11] 500 km, 85° LEO
  • Spire Global
  • GeoOptics
  • Irvine CubeSat STEM Program
  • High Performance Space Structure Systems
  • Fleet Space Technologies
Success No attempt
The 11 November 2018 launch was successful; all cubesats planned to be deployed were deployed in orbit. The launch, originally planned for April 2018, had been delayed several times: to June/July after unusual behavior was identified in a motor controller during a wet dress rehearsal,[19][22] by a few days after a ground tracking antenna issue in the Chatham Island tracking station[24] and indefinitely after another motor controller issue.[25][26] In October 2018, a nine-day launch window was announced starting 11 November 2018.[27]
4 "This One's For Pickering"[28] 16 December 2018, 06:33[29] Mahia, LC-1A 78 kg (172 lb)[30] 500 km, 85° LEO NASA[31] Success No attempt
Multiple CubeSats for the NASA-sponsored ELaNa-19 mission.[31] They were deployed from RailPOD dispensers. Was the first NASA mission for Rocket Lab.[32]

2019[edit]

First launch for the U.S. Air Force in May.

Flight No. Name Date/time
(UTC)
Launch site Payload Payload Mass Destination Customer(s) Launch outcome Booster recovery
5 "Two Thumbs Up"[33] 28 March 2019, 23:27[34] Mahia, LC-1A R3D2[35] 150 kg (330 lb)[36] 425 km, 39.5° LEO DARPA Success No attempt
Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2) will qualify a new type of membrane reflectarray antenna.[37] Northrop Grumman serves as the prime contractor for R3D2. Blue Canyon Technologies provided the satellite bus, MMA Design provided the antenna.[38]
6 "That's a Funny Looking Cactus"[39] 5 May 2019, 06:00[40] Mahia, LC-1A 180 kilograms (400 lb)[40] 500 km, 40° LEO U.S. Air Force Success No attempt
Launch is part of the "Rapid Agile Launch Initiative" (RALI) for the U.S. Air Force.[41] Was first night launch of an Electron and its heaviest payload up to the time.[42]
7 "Make it Rain" 29 June 2019, 04:30[43] Mahia, LC-1A
[44][45][46]
80 kilograms (180 lb)[47] LEO
Success No attempt
BlackSky Global 3 is part of a constellation of Earth-observing satellites.[45][46] SpaceBEE cubesats are manufactured by Swarm Technologies to test two-way satellite communication and data relay. SpaceBEE 8 weighs 0.4 kg (0.88 lb) while SpaceBEE 9 weighs 0.7 kg (1.54 lb).[48][49]
8 "Look Ma, No Hands" 19 August 2019, 12:12[50] Mahia, LC-1A
  • Breizh Recon Orbiter (BRO-1)
  • BlackSky Global 4
  • Experimental Satellites x 2
[51]
Approx. 80 kilograms (180 lb)[11] LEO
Success No attempt
Breizh Recon Orbiter (BRO-1) is part of a constellation used for tracking maritime vessels. BlackSky Global 4 is part of a constellation of Earth-observing satellites. The two experimental satellites for Air Force Space Command are part of the "Pearl White" technology demonstration program.[51][52]
9 "As the Crow Flies" 17 October 2019, 01:22[53] Mahia, LC-1A
Palisade[54]
Approx. 20 kilograms (44 lb)[11] 1200 km, LEO Success No attempt
Palisade is a 16U CubeSat technology demonstrator satellite.[56] An upgraded, bi-propellant kick stage lifted the satellite to a 1200 km circular orbit, and then deorbited itself.[57]
10 "Running Out Of Fingers" 6 December 2019, 08:18 [58][59] Mahia, LC-1A
[59]
Approx. 77 kilograms (170 lb)[11] 385 x 400 km, LEO Success Controlled (atmosphere test)
ATL-1 will test new thermal insulation in space. FossaSat-1 is a communications satellite that uses low-power radio frequencies to provide Internet of things connectivity. NOOR-1A and NOOR-1B will demonstrate intersatellite link technology. SMOG-P will use a spectrum analyzer to measure electromagnetic pollution. TRSI Sat will provide flight tracking services. ALE-2 will create artificial shooting star displays.[59] The six satellites other than ALE-2 are PocketQubes, forming Alba Cluster 2 of Alba Orbital.

This mission also was the first guided, full telemetry re-entry of the Electron launch vehicle's first stage as part of Rocket Lab's plans to re-use and re-fly rocket boosters in future missions. Recovery instrumentation on-board this flight included guidance and navigation hardware, including S-band telemetry and on-board flight computer systems, to live-gather data during the first stage's atmospheric re-entry, as well as a reaction control system to orient the booster.[60][61] After the launch Rocket Lab said that the reusability tests were successful.[62]

First flight of Electron with a fully autonomous flight termination system on the rocket.[63]

2020[edit]

First launch for the National Reconnaissance Office in January 2020.

First launch of Photon kickstage in August 2020.

Flight

No.

Name Date/time
(UTC)
Launch site Payload Payload Mass Destination Customer(s) Launch outcome Booster recovery
11 "Birds of a Feather" 31 January 2020, 02:56[64] Mahia, LC-1A NROL-151 Classified 590 km x 610 km, 70.9° LEO National Reconnaissance Office Success Controlled (atmosphere test)
First launch for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The NRO competitively awarded the contract under the Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) contract vehicle. RASR allows the NRO to explore new launch opportunities that can provide a streamlined, commercial approach for getting small satellites into space. For the second time, the Electron booster survived atmospheric re-entry. Rocket Lab again said their reusability test were successful.[64]
12 "Don't Stop Me Now" 13 June 2020,
05:12:12[65]
Mahia, LC-1A
  • Classified payloads x 3 (USA-301, 302, 303) (NRO)
  • ANDESITE
  • RAAF M2PF (Pathfinder)
Classified LEO NRO, Boston University / NASA and University of New South Wales Canberra Space and the Royal Australian Air Force.[66] Success No attempt[67]
Part of the ELaNa 32 mission, ANDESITE is a satellite designed to study Earth's magnetic field. The M2 Pathfinder satellite will be a technology demonstration satellite to test communications. The flight will also carry three payloads for the NRO.[68][69] Rocket Lab does not plan to do any recovery testing.[69] Flight delayed due to COVID-19.[68] A launch attempt on 11 June 2020 was canceled due to bad weather.[70] ANDESITE consists of ANDESITE Mule, a 6U parent spacecraft, and ANDESITE Node 1 to Node 8, small magnetometer subsatellites to be ejected from it to study magnetospheric variation. Each Node is 0.20 x 0.10 x 0.025 m in size with a mass of 0.38 kg.[66]
13 "Pics or it didn't happen" 4 July 2020
21:19:36
Mahia, LC-1A
  • CE-SAT-IB
  • SuperDove x 5
  • Faraday 1
Approx. 75 kg (165 lb) LEO
Failure No attempt[71]
Flight No. 13's name was "Pics Or It Didn't Happen".[72] The 5 SuperDoves were part of Planet's Flock 4e.[73] Flight failed during 2nd stage burn.[1][74] The issue was found to be a single faulty electrical connection that was not caught during preflight testing. The wiring was intermittently secure leading to increasing resistance causing heating and thermal expansion. This caused softening of potting compounds around the connection leading to a disconnect. The disconnect lead to power being cut from the electric turbopumps needed for the Rutherford engine leading the engine to be shut down.[75] No changes were made to the vehicle but changes were made to "work instructions and quality signoffs".[76]
14 "I Can't Believe It's Not Optical" 31 August 2020
03:05:47 [77]
Mahia, LC-1A
100 kg LEO Capella Space Success No attempt [71]
Return to flight of Electron after the 4 July 2020 launch failure.[78][79] Launch of a synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite, for global imagery.[80] Also launched the Photon satellite bus.[81]
15 "In Focus" [82] 28 October 2020
21:21:27 [83]
Mahia, LC-1A
  • SuperDove x 9
  • CE-SAT-IIB
LEO Success No attempt[71]
After satellite deployed kick stage changed orbital inclination.[84]
16 "Return To Sender" [85] 20 November 2020
02:20:01 [83]
Mahia, LC-1A
  • Dragracer A
  • Dragracer B
  • BRO-2
  • BRO-3
  • APSS-1 (Te Waka Āmiorangi o Aotearoa) (Auckland Program for Space Systems)
  • SpaceBEE x 24
  • Gnome Chompski (mass simulator)
200 kg LEO Success Success (Ocean landing)
First Electron to attempt a soft ocean landing by parachute with the booster and recovery by vessel.[86]
17 "The Owl's Night Begins" [87] 15 December 2020
10:09:27 [88]
Mahia, LC-1A StriX-α 150 kg 500 km, 97.3° SSO Synspective Success No attempt
Test satellite weighing 150 kg (330 lb) using synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) from a Japanese company. Part of a future constellation of 25 satellites to provide global coverage. Satellite was encompassed in an expanded fairing.[89]

2021[edit]

First launch for US Space Force in July 2021.

Flight

No.

Name Date/time
(UTC)
Launch site Payload Payload Mass Destination Customer(s) Launch outcome Booster recovery
18 "Another One Leaves The Crust" 20 January 2021
07:26:00 [90]
Mahia, LC-1A GMS-T [91] ~50 kg LEO OHB Success No attempt
Dedicated mission for OHB, the launch occurred six months after the contract signing with Rocket Lab and OHB.[92]
19 "They Go Up So Fast" 22 March 2021
22:30 [93]
Mahia, LC-1A
  • BlackSky Global 9
  • Centauri 3
  • Myriota 7
  • Veery Hatchling
  • RAAF-M2 A, B
  • Gunsmoke-J
  • Photon (Pathstone)[94]
Unknown LEO
Success[93] No attempt
During this mission, Rocket Lab deployed their 100th satellite to orbit. As well as their second Photon satellite bus named Pathstone. Photon Pathstone will operate on orbit as a risk reduction demonstration to build spacecraft heritage ahead of Rocket Lab's mission to the Moon for NASA later this year, as well as Rocket Lab's private mission to Venus in 2023.[93]
20 "Running Out Of Toes" 15 May 2021
11:11 [95]
Mahia, LC-1A BlackSky-10, BlackSky-11 120 kg LEO BlackSky via Spaceflight Industries, Inc. Failure [96][97] Success (Ocean landing) [98]
Second launch to attempt booster recovery (via ocean landing), using an advanced heat shield based on lessons learned from the first recovered Electron booster.[99] First of four 2021 launches to carry two BlackSky Global Gen 2 satellites.[100] Second stage engine shut down early causing the mission to be lost, but Electron's first stage safely completed a successful splashdown under parachute. The investigation revealed that the second stage igniter fault induced an interference with the engine controller that caused the data signal corruption for the thrust vector control (TVC) system, straying the vehicle off course.[101]
21 "It's A Little Chile Up Here" 29 July 2021
06:00[102]
Mahia, LC-1A Monolith Unknown LEO U.S. Space Force Success No attempt
The launch was originally scheduled to fly from LC-2 in Wallops in 2020, but NASA didn't certify the autonomous flight termination system (AFTS) in time.[103] Because of these delays, the launch was moved to LC-1 as the return to flight after the anomaly Electron experienced during the "Running Out Of Toes" mission in May 2021.
22 "Love At First Insight" 18 November 2021
01:38:13 [104][105]
Mahia, LC-1A BlackSky-14, BlackSky-15 120 kg LEO BlackSky via Spaceflight Inc. Success Success (Ocean landing) [106]
Second of four launches to carry two BlackSky Global Gen 2 satellites in 2021. Mission was named "Love At First Insight". The first stage booster performed a soft ocean splashdown under parachute. For the first time, a helicopter tracked and observed Electron's descent in preparation for future missions which aim to use helicopters to intercept and capture returning launch vehicle boosters mid-air as they return to Earth under parachute. The launch vehicle also flew with an advanced parachute deployed from the first stage at a higher altitude then previous recovery attempts and an improved heat shield.[107]
23 "A Data With Destiny" 9 December 2021 00:02[108] Mahia, LC-1A BlackSky-12 Gen-2, BlackSky-13 Gen-2 120 kg LEO BlackSky via Spaceflight Inc. Success No attempt
Third of four launches to carry two BlackSky Global Gen 2 satellites in 2021.[105] This mission set a new turnaround record between Electron launches at just 20 days.

2022[edit]

Flight

No.

Name Date/time
(UTC)
Launch site Payload Payload Mass Destination Customer(s) Launch outcome Booster recovery
24 "The Owl's Night Continues" 28 February 2022
20:37[109]
Mahia, LC-1B StriX-β ~150 kg SSO Synspective Success No attempt
Inaugural launch from Launch Complex 1 Pad B. First of three dedicated launches for Synspective's StriX constellation.[110]
25 "Without Mission A Beat" 2 April 2022
12:41[111]
Mahia, LC-1A BlackSky-14 Gen-2, BlackSky-15 Gen-2 ~120 kg LEO BlackSky via Spaceflight Inc. Success No attempt
Last of four launches to carry two BlackSky Global Gen 2 satellites in 2021 and 2022.
26 "There And Back Again" 2 May 2022
22:49[112]
Mahia, LC-1A
  • TRSI-2 & TRSI-3
  • MyRadar-1
  • Unicorn-2
  • Copia
  • AuroraSat-1
  • E-Space Demo (3 satellites)
  • SpaceBEE (24 satellites)
  • BRO-6
Unknown SSO
Success Partial failure (aerial capture)
Deployed 34 satellites for six customers. First mid-air helicopter capture attempt of an Electron first stage following launch. Electron was initially captured by the helicopter, but the pilot detected different load characteristics than previously experienced in testing and offloaded the stage for a splashdown, where it was recovered by Rocket Lab's contracted offshore vessel, Seaworker as in previous ocean landings.[112]
27 "CAPSTONE" 28 June 2022
09:55[113]
Mahia, LC-1B 80 kg TLI to NRHO Success No attempt
Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) is a CubeSat mission that will serve as a precursor for the planned Gateway. It used Photon to place CAPSTONE on a trajectory to the Moon. CAPSTONE will move into a near-rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO) after separation from Photon.[114] Due to the heavy nature of the payload, the first stage was stripped down to its bare frame with no recovery hardware and no cameras. The recovery hardware itself takes about 10-15% of the payload mass capabilities of a given launch.[115]
28 "Wise One Looks Ahead". 13 July 2022
06:30[116]
Mahia, LC-1A NROL-162 (RASR-3)[117] Classified LEO NRO Success No attempt
First of two "Responsive Space Missions" NRO launches. Back to back launches between Pad A and B.[117]
29 "Antipodean Adventure" 4 August 2022
05:00[118]
Mahia, LC-1B NROL-199 (RASR-4) Classified LEO NRO Success No attempt
Second of two "Responsive Space Missions" NRO launches. Back to back launches between Pad A and B.[117]
30 "The Owl Spreads Its Wings" 15 September 2022
20:38[119]
Mahia, LC-1B StriX-1 ~100 kg SSO Synspective Success No attempt
Second of three dedicated launches for Synspective's StriX constellation named "The Owl Spreads Its Wings". StriX-1 is the 150th satellite deployed by Rocket Lab.[120]
31 "It Argos Up From Here" 7 October 2022
17:09[121]
Mahia, LC-1B GAzelle (Argos-4)[122] 118 kg SSO NOAA / CNES Success No attempt
First launch for General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems. The GAzelle satellite carries the Argos-4 Advanced Data Collection System hosted payload.[123]
32 "Catch Me If You Can" 4 November 2022
17:27[124]
Mahia, LC-1B MATS 50 kg SSO SNSA & OHB Sweden Success Partial failure (aerial capture)
Launch of MATS atmospheric research satellite for the Swedish National Space Agency. Second attempt at mid-air helicopter recovery of first stage, however due to telemetry loss from the first stage during its decent, it was not safe for the helicopter to loiter in the capture zone, so it backed off. Stage made a soft ocean landing and was recovered by Rocket Lab's contracted offshore vessel, Seaworker as in previous ocean landings.[125]

Upcoming launches[edit]

In July 2019, Rocket Lab expected to have launches every two weeks in 2020.[126] In June 2020, with a new Electron launch vehicle built every 18 days, Rocket Lab was planning to deliver monthly launches for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021, including the company's first launch from Wallops LC-2 in 2021 and a mission to the Moon for NASA aboard Electron and Rocket Lab's spacecraft bus platform Photon in 2021.[127]

2022[edit]

First launch from Wallops, LC-2 scheduled for 2022.

Date/time
(UTC)
Launch site Payload Planned
destination
Customer
9 December 2022
23:00[128]
MARS, LC-2 HawkEye 360 Cluster 6 (3 satellites)[129] LEO HawkEye 360
Mission named "Virginia Is For Launch Lovers" which will launch the first 3 of the 15 satellites contracted with HawkEye 360 . First launch from Launch Complex 2 at Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.
2022[130] Mahia, LC-1 BlackSky Gen-2 × 2 LEO BlackSky via Spaceflight Inc.
Additional launch commissioned following previous series of launches.
TBD [131] Mahia, LC-1 Flock-x × 20–25 [132] LEO Planet Labs
A constellation of satellites for Earth observation. 20 to 25 microsatellites will be released during the launch.

2023[edit]

Date/time
(UTC)
Launch site Payload Planned
destination
Customer
NET 10 January 2023[133] MARS, LC-2 Capella 9, Capella 10 LEO Capella Space
Dedicated launch for Capella Space.[134][135]
Q1 2023[136] Mahia, LC-1 ACS3[137] SSO NASA
Rideshare mission including NASA's Advanced Composite Solar Sail System (ACS3).
NET 1 May 2023[138] MARS, LC-2[139] TROPICS × 2 LEO NASA
Launch was originally awarded to Astra. After the first launch aboard an Astra Rocket 3.3 failed, NASA awarded the contract for the remaining 2 launches to Rocket Lab. The TROPICS constellation will consist of 4 CubeSats intended for two low-Earth orbital planes.
NET 1 May 2023[138] MARS, LC-2[139] TROPICS × 2 LEO NASA
Launch was originally awarded to Astra. After the first launch aboard an Astra Rocket 3.3 failed, NASA awarded the contract for the remaining 2 launches to Rocket Lab. The TROPICS constellation will consist of 4 CubeSats intended for two low-Earth orbital planes.
May 2023[140][141] Mahia, LC-1 Venus Life Finder Mission 1[142] Heliocentric Rocket Lab
Private Venus exploration mission, using an atmospheric-entry probe developed jointly with MIT. A Photon relay satellite will perform a flyby of Venus in order to relay the data from the atmospheric-entry probe.
2023[143][144][145] Mahia, LC-1 McNair SSO Akash Systems Inc.
McNair will be launched into a 500 km high Sun-synchronous orbit with a 97.8° inclination. The McNair mission aims to test the "GaN-on-Diamond transmitter".[145]
2023[146] Mahia, LC-1 Kinéis × 5 LEO Kinéis
First of five dedicated launches for Kinéis' IoT satellite constellation.[147]
2023[148] Mahia, LC-1 Kinéis × 5 LEO Kinéis
Second of five dedicated launches for Kinéis' IoT satellite constellation.[147]
2023[149] Mahia, LC-1 ADRAS-J LEO Astroscale
The Active Debris Removal by Astroscale-Japan (ADRAS-J) satellite will rendezvous with a spent Japanese upper stage launch vehicle body in low Earth orbit and demonstrate proximity operations in preparation for a future de-orbiting mission.
2023[150] Mahia, LC-1 Kinéis × 5 LEO Kinéis
Third of five dedicated launches for Kinéis' IoT satellite constellation.[147]
2023[150] Mahia, LC-1 Kinéis × 5 LEO Kinéis
Fourth of five dedicated launches for Kinéis' IoT satellite constellation.[147]
2023[150] Mahia, LC-1 Kinéis × 5 LEO Kinéis
Fifth of five dedicated launches for Kinéis' IoT satellite constellation.[147]
2023[110] Mahia, LC-1 StriX SSO Synspective
Third of three dedicated launches for Synspective's StriX constellation.
2023–2024[151] Unknown Hawk × 6 LEO HawkEye 360
First of two dedicated launches for HawkEye 360.
2023–2024[151] Unknown Hawk × 6 LEO HawkEye 360
Second of two dedicated launches for HawkEye 360.

2024[edit]

Date/time
(UTC)
Launch site Payload Planned
destination
Customer
March 2024[152][153] Mahia, LC-1 LOXSAT1 SSO Eta Space
Cryogenic fluid management technology demonstration for a future propellant depot.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]