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Watch Rocket Lab launch a US spy satellite early Thursday after wind delay

Update for 1:30 a.m. EDT: Rocket Lab has successfully launched the NROL-199 spy satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, with satellite deploy expected at around 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT).


Rocket Lab will launch a U.S. spy satellite in the wee hours of Thursday morning (Aug. 4), and you can watch the action live.

An Electron booster is scheduled to launch a payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) from Rocket Lab's New Zealand site on the Mahia Peninsula on Thursday during a two-hour window that opens at 1 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT; 5 p.m. local time in New Zealand). An attempt to launch the mission on Aug. 2 was delayed by high winds.

Watch it live here at Space.com, courtesy of Rocket Lab, or directly via the company (opens in new tab).

Related: Rocket Lab and its Electron booster (photos)

Thursday morning's mission, which Rocket Lab calls "Antipodean Adventure," will loft NROL-199, a national security satellite that's a joint effort of the NRO and the Australian Department of Defence (AUS DoD). 

"The payload will support the NRO to provide critical information to government agencies and decision makers monitoring international issues," Rocket Lab wrote in a mission description (opens in new tab).

NROL-199 will be the second of two NRO-AUS DoD missions to launch on an Electron in relatively short order. Rocket Lab also launched the NROL-162 satellite from New Zealand on July 13.

"Antipodean Adventure" will be the 29th launch overall for the 58-foot-tall (19 meters) Electron. The booster was designed to give small satellites dedicated rides to Earth orbit, but Rocket Lab is expanding its exploration profile. An Electron recently launched NASA's CAPSTONE probe to the moon, for example, and the company aims to send one or more life-hunting missions to Venus in the coming years.

Rocket Lab is also working to make Electron's first stage reusable and recovered boosters from several recent flights for inspection and analysis. The company even (briefly) snagged a falling Electron first stage with a helicopter on May 2, during a mission called "There and Back Again." 

There won't be any recovery activities (opens in new tab) on "Antipodean Adventure," however; the Electron's first stage will plummet into the ocean shortly after liftoff.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).  

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Mike Wall
Mike Wall

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com (opens in new tab) 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.