A window of opportunity became a window of darkness as what was billed as possibly Hawkes Bay's best-view rocket launch disappeared behind the clouds.

The southern trajectory of Rocket Lab's 12th launch from its Mahia Peninsula pad at 5.12pm on Saturday - soon after sunset - would otherwise have been viewable from across the region.

It had been billed as the most viewable since rocket launching - and watching - came to the Bay three years ago.

While Rocket Lab regarded the launch as perfect, MetService meteorologist Andy Best said the cloud spread across Hawke's Bay and north to Gisborne.


As luck would have it, the cloud cleared overnight to expose the region to yet another of its regular near cloudless dawns.

The 'Don't Stop Me Now' mission came after more than two months of delay caused by the Covid-19 crisis, and then winds on Thursday, the first day of a new fortnight-long daily early-evening window.

Saturday's launch put into orbit satellites to orbit for NASA, the America's National Reconnaissance Office, and the University of New South Wales Canberra Space.

It included several small satellites, including the ANDESITE (Ad-Hoc Network Demonstration for Extended Satellite-Based Inquiry and Other Team Endeavours) satellite created by electrical and mechanical engineering students and professors at Boston University. The satellite will launch as part of NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative and will conduct groundbreaking scientific study into Earth's magnetic field.

Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck said the mission highlighted Electron's continued ability to meet the needs of government missions, whether payloads required a dedicated mission or could fly as part of a ride-share.

With Covid-19 restrictions now easing, Rocket Lab has also returned to full production of Electron launch vehicles and Photon satellites.

It is now delivering a launch vehicle off the production line every 18 days to meet a busy launch manifest for the rest of the year, including its first launch from a new US launch site in Virginia.

Details of the next launch from Mahia are expected to be announced soon.