NZ rocket test launch postponed after International Space Station gets in the way

Rocket Lab successfully launched the Electron rocket in May 2017.
Rocket Lab successfully launched the Electron rocket in May 2017. Photo credit: Rocket Lab/Twitter

A rocket test launch from New Zealand was postponed after the International Space Station got in the way.

Rocket Lab was set to launch their Electron rocket, named 'Still Testing', from Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula on Monday. The 'window' of ideal timing for the launch had been open since Friday. 

The official Rocket Lab livestream began counting down an hour before 3pm, although the expected launch time was 2:30pm. The livestream 'went dark' sometime between 2:30pm and 3pm, and shortly afterwards Rocket Lab announced that the launch had been postponed.

In a statement, the company said the launch was scrubbed due to a combination of bad weather and the Internenational Space Station. The ISS's planned trajectory was close enough to the Electron rocket's path that Rocket Lab was left with just a six-minute window for a launch attempt. 

Communications manager Morgan Bailey told Newshub that while the ISS wouldn't be exactly in the path of the Electron, it was important for Rocket Lab to steer clear.

Poor weather began closing in on Monday afternoon, despite Rocket Lab predicting "ideal weather conditions" for the launch in a tweet on Friday.

A second launch attempt will be made after 2:30pm on Tuesday December 12, provided weather conditions are suitable.


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