Rocket Lab will try again tomorrow to launch Nasa satellites into orbit from Mahia.

A predicted thunderstorm near Mahia meant today's first launch attempt was scrubbed but Rocket Lab said there was still eight days left in the launch window to achieve launch.

Daily launch windows within this are open from 5pm to 9pm.

Following three previous launches from the Onenui Station site,successfully deploying 11 satellites into orbit, the Educational Launch of Nano satellites (ELaNa)-19 mission would be Rocket Lab's first for Nasa.


If successful Nasa says it could be back again.

"It is an honour and privilege to launch NASA payloads on Electron, and to be the first small satellite launcher to fly under a NASA Venture Class Launch Services contract," Rocket Lab's New Zealand founder Peter Beck said.

"Reaching orbit twice already this year has made 2018 a banner year for Rocket Lab. Capping it off with our first launch for NASA is a tremendous way to celebrate the new era of improved access to orbit for small satellites."

The launch was a significant moment for the small satellite industry, as it would be the first time NASA CubeSats will enjoy a dedicated ride to orbit on a commercial launch vehicle, thanks to NASA's forward-leaning Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) initiative.

NASA ELaNa-19 mission manager Justin Treptow said the VCLS contract was a direct response from NASA to the small satellite industry's changing needs for rapid and repeatable access to orbit.

"The NASA Venture Class Launch Service contract was designed from the ground up to be an innovative way for NASA to work and encourage new launch companies to come to the market and enable a future class of rockets for the growing small satellite market.

"We're excited to see the initial vision of the Venture Class Contract coming to reality. Having these companies come to the market is proof that NASA's investment was well made and having our first launch with Rocket Lab launch the ELaNa-19 payloads is icing on the cake."

Many of the 10 ELaNa-19 CubeSats manifested on the mission are receiving their access to space through a NASA initiative called the CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI). CSLI enables the launch of CubeSat projects designed, built and operated by students, teachers and faculty, as well as, NASA centers and programs, and nonprofit organizations.


The satellites could provide research into planetary space exploration; Earth observation; Earth and space science; and developing precursor science instruments like laser communications, satellite-to-satellite communications and autonomous movement capabilities.

"This is the first of our VCLS providers to launch and if Rocket Lab continues to offer this unique launch services, they'll will be in a good position to bid on future NASA launch contracts," Treptow said.

The payload would also include an RSat payload from the US Naval Academy, which hopes to demonstrate capabilities for in-orbit repair of spacecraft.

The US Naval Academy says New Zealand launches offer near-polar orbit insertions which are a rare chance for USNA satellites.

For the ELaNa-19 mission, the Electron launch vehicle is named 'This One's For Pickering' in honor of NZ-born scientist and former Director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), Sir William Pickering.

Live coverage of the ELaNa-19 launch will be available on Rocket Lab's website at www.rocketalbusa/live-stream.