Rocket Lab aims for Dec. 13 Electron launch, 1st since failure in September

white coat lab workers carry a pain of glass near a golf-cart-sized satellite in a Rocket Lab branded white room.
Rocket Lab Technicians operate equiqment during payload integration procedures for The Moon God Awakens. (Image credit: Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab is gearing up for the next flight of its Electron small-satellite launch vehicle. 

The mission will fly a spacecraft known as "The Moon God Awakens" for Japan-based company iQPS, which has plans for a constellation of Earth-imaging satellites. This will be the 42nd launch for the Electron rocket, which has been grounded since September when a malfunction led to the loss of a mission payload during a launch. 

On Sunday (Nov. 26), Rocket Lab announced on X (formerly Twitter) that the company is now targeting no earlier than (NET) Dec. 13 for the upcoming launch.

Related: September launch failure likely caused by 'electrical arc,' Rocket Lab says

That will be dependent on a successful wet dress rehearsal with the Electron rocket, according to Rocket Lab's post on X. That post also indicated a completed payload integration for the upcoming mission, which will launch from Rocket Lab's Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand.

According to statements from Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck released in a Nov. 8 company earnings report, the failed Sept. 19 Electron launch stemmed from a short in the battery packs that power the rocket's upper stage.

Beck voiced confidence in Rocket Lab's investigation into the root causes of September's accident, and suggested the formal investigation into the matter would close by the end of the month. "Electron's return to flight is scheduled during a launch window that opens from November 28, 2023, and extends into December," the statement reads. 

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Electron is a two-stage rocket, with a third "kick stage" for orbit-specific payload deliveries. The rocket stands 59 feet tall (18 meters), and is capable of launching over 660 pounds (300 kilograms) to low Earth orbit (LEO). 

Rocket Lab has launched 41 times to date, delivering a total of 177 satellites to orbit. Before the Sept. 19 failure, its most recent launch mishap occurred in May 2021 when an Electron rocket suffered a second stage anomaly.

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Josh Dinner
Writer, Content Manager

Josh Dinner is Space.com's Content Manager. He is a writer and photographer with a passion for science and space exploration, and has been working the space beat since 2016. Josh has covered the evolution of NASA's commercial spaceflight partnerships, from early Dragon and Cygnus cargo missions to the ongoing development and launches of crewed missions from the Space Coast, as well as NASA science missions and more. He also enjoys building 1:144 scale models of rockets and human-flown spacecraft. Find some of Josh's launch photography on Instagram and his website, and follow him on Twitter, where he mostly posts in haiku.