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Rocket Lab Aborts Test Launch Seconds Before Liftoff

A Rocket Lab Electron rocket nearly took off from the company's launch facility in New Zealand on Dec. 11, but launch was aborted seconds before takeoff.
A Rocket Lab Electron rocket nearly took off from the company's launch facility in New Zealand on Dec. 11, but launch was aborted seconds before takeoff. (Image credit: Rocket Lab)

Update 12/13: Rocket Lab has once again delayed the launch of its Electron rocket due to weather. Company representatives say they will try again tomorrow (Thursday Dec. 14 in the U.S./Friday Dec. 15 in New Zealand).  

The private spaceflight company Rocket Lab aborted a scheduled test launch of its small-scale Electron rocket today (Dec. 11), just 2 seconds before liftoff.

At Rocket Lab's private launch facility in New Zealand, the countdown clock had nearly reached zero when a white puff of smoke erupted from the bottom of the Electron rocket — but then, the clock stopped, and the rocket failed to rise off the ground. The launch was abruptly halted at 10:50 p.m. EST on Dec. 11 (0350 GMT), which is 4:50 p.m. New Zealand Time on Dec. 12.

"After reviewing the telemetry and data, and time remaining in our launch window, the team has decided to wave-off for the rest of the day," Daniel Gillies, Rocket Lab's mission management and integration director, said during a live webcast on the company's website.  

This is the second test launch of Rocket Lab's small-scale Electron rocket; the first test flight took place in May. This test — which the company has named "Still Testing" — has a 10-day launch window that opened on Dec. 7. Poor weather conditions have delayed a launch attempt until today.

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Calla Cofield
Calla Cofield joined the crew of Space.com in October, 2014. She enjoys writing about black holes, exploding stars, ripples in space-time, science in comic books, and all the mysteries of the cosmos. She has been underground at three of the largest particle accelerators in the world. She'd really like to know what the heck dark matter is. Prior to joining Space.com Calla worked as a freelance science writer. Her work has appeared in APS News, Symmetry magazine, Scientific American, Nature News, Physics World, and others. From 2010 to 2014 she was a producer for The Physics Central Podcast. Previously, Calla worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (hands down the best office building ever) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Calla studied physics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is originally from Sandy, Utah. Contact Calla via: E-Mail – Twitter