The rocket will take off from Rocket Lab's launch pad in New Zealand and carry five small satellites to orbit to provide a busy one-year commercial operation for launch providers.
Rocket Lab originally hoped to complete the mission in April, but the company had to postpone launching after discovering that the rocket had an anomaly. After transporting the Electron Rocket to the launch pad and filling it with fuel, the engineering team found a problem with the critical motors responsible for controlling the engine's internal pumps. So Rocket Lab decided to find out the cause of this problem. "It is very difficult to determine the root cause of the problem," Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab, told The Verge. "This is not particularly obvious."
After a period of time, Beck said the company had identified the cause and made some changes to ensure that the motor worked properly. Rocket Lab also decided to add two additional satellites to the “It’s Business Time” mission. The initial task was to send two small Lemur-2 satellites made by Spire Global and another probe made by Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems. Now, this task also includes putting a student-built research satellite and a special test satellite on the orbit.
This will be the third launch of the Rocket Lab Electron Rocket. The company had successfully launched rockets in May last year and January this year - then decided to turn to commercial launches. During the first test launch, the rocket was launched but the rocket did not enter orbit due to the failure of ground communications equipment. However, the second test did indeed put three satellites and Beck's own balls into orbit. Initially, Rocket Lab planned to conduct a third test flight, but the company eventually decided to collect enough data through two tests to start business operations.
Beck said that the next time the company will perform its mission for NASA, its rocket will carry 11 standardized CubeSats microsatellites into orbit. The goal of Rocket Lab is to become a rocket launch company that specializes in putting small satellites into orbit. Electron is only 55 feet high and can carry 330 to 500 pounds of cargo into low Earth orbit. In contrast, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket is 230 feet high and can send 50,000 pounds of heavy weight to the same track. The ultimate goal of Rocket Lab is to launch every 72 hours.