Rocket Lab to Launch 1st Commercial Mission Tonight: Watch It Live

Rocket Lab Electron rocket lifts off
A Rocket Lab Electron launcher lifts off from New Zealand on Jan. 20, 2018, on the booster's second-ever spaceflight, a successful demonstration mission called "Still Testing." The first commercial Electron mission, called "It's Business Time," is scheduled to launch Nov. 10, 2018. (Image credit: Rocket Lab)

The spaceflight startup Rocket Lab will launch its first fully operational commercial mission Saturday night (Nov. 10), and you can watch the landmark liftoff live.

Rocket Lab's 57-foot-tall (17 meters) Electron booster is scheduled to rise off the pad at the company's New Zealand launch site Saturday at 10 p.m. EST (0300 GMT and 4 p.m. local New Zealand time on Nov. 11), on a mission dubbed "It's Business Time." You can watch the action live here at, courtesy of Rocket Lab, or directly via the company's website.

The launch window runs for 4 hours Saturday night. If "It's Business Time" gets delayed, similar 4-hour windows are open on the following eight nights. [In Photos: Rocket Lab's Electron Booster for Small Satellites]

If all goes according to plan, "It's Business Time" will deliver six small satellites to Earth orbit, about 310 miles (500 kilometers) above our planet. Those spacecraft belong to Spire Global, Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, Fleet Space Technologies and the Irvine CubeSat STEM Program, Rocket Lab representatives have said. The Irvine CubeSat STEM satellite also carries innovative tiny thrusters built by Accion Systems for propulsion.

The Electron will also carry a "drag sail" demonstrator, which is designed to prove out technology to help deorbit defunct satellites more quickly and efficiently.

Saturday's launch will mark the third liftoff for the Electron. The rocket previously flew demonstration missions in May of 2017 and January of this year. On that latter flight, called "Still Testing," the Electron successfully lofted four small satellites to orbit.

The Electron may be a small booster, but Rocket Lab thinks it can do very big things. The company aims to make spaceflight more frequent and accessible with Electron, which can launch up to 500 pounds (227 kilograms) to orbit for about $5 million per flight.

Saturday's flight was originally scheduled for April. Rocket Lab delayed the launch repeatedly to deal with a motor-control glitch with the Electron and other issues.

Mike Wall's book about the search for alien life, "Out There," will be published on Nov. 13 by Grand Central Publishing. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us @Spacedotcom or Facebook. Originally published on

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.