Rocket Lab Swaps Satellite Customers for Electron Launch Tonight: Watch It Live!

The Rocket Lab Electron booster carrying an Astro Digital satellite stands atop its Mahia Peninsula launch site in New Zealand during a wet rehearsal for an Oct. 14, 2019 launch.
The Rocket Lab Electron booster carrying an Astro Digital satellite stands atop its Mahia Peninsula launch site in New Zealand during a wet rehearsal for an Oct. 14, 2019 launch. (Image credit: Rocket Lab)

Update for Oct. 16: Rocket Lab is now targeting no earlier than 8:41 p.m. EDT (0041 GMT) for tonight's launch.

Editor's Note: Rocket Lab is now planning to launch the "As the Crow Flies" mission on Wednesday (Oct. 16) between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. EDT (0000-0300 GMT on Oct. 17). The launch was delayed from Oct. 14 due to thunderstorms in the area. You can watch the launch live here at

The private spaceflight company Rocket Lab will loft a small satellite for the California-based firm Astro Digital from New Zealand next week in a last-minute mission swap for the commercial launch company

A Rocket Lab Electron booster will launch no earlier than Monday (Oct. 14, October 15 NZDT) from the company's Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand's Māhia Peninsula. The flight, Rocket Lab's fifth of 2019, will carry a satellite for Astro Digital's Corvus Platform.

Based in Santa Clara, California, Astro Digital is a satellite manufacturer and operator that provides CubeSats and small satellites for Earth observation, satellite communications and technology demonstration missions. Astro Digital was originally scheduled to launch on a later Electron flight, but snagged the upcoming opportunity  after a different undisclosed Rocket Lab customer, asked to delay its mission, Rocket Lab representatives said in a statement

Related: In Photos: Rocket Lab and Its Electron Booster

"By manufacturing standard Electron launch vehicles, rather than rockets tailored to specific missions, Rocket Lab can facilitate rapid manifest changes that support the responsive needs of small satellite operators," they wrote in the statement. "Rocket Lab augments this flexibility by operating the world’s only private orbital launch range, providing small satellite customers with unmatched launch schedule control."

Rocket Lab decided to nickname this mission "As the Crow Flies"after Astro Digital's Corvus Platform. Corvus being a large genus of birds that includes crows. Rocket Lab has traditionally picked wild names for its Electron missions.

"We are honored Astro Digital has selected Rocket Lab as the launch provider for their dedicated mission," Lars Hoffman, Rocket Lab's senior vice president of global launch services, said in the statement. "With Electron and our own launch sites, Rocket Lab is uniquely placed to give small satellite operators complete control over their own launch schedule and orbital requirements," he added. 

"As The Crow Flies" will mark Rocket Lab's ninth mission since its Electron boosters began flying in 2017. 

The Huntington Beach, California-based company is also developing a reusable rocket system to capture Electron booster first stages in midair with a helicopter. A second Electron launchpad, called Launch Complex 2, is under construction at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: