1 May 2018

NASA satellites to be launched by Rocket Lab in Mahia

7:51 am on 1 May 2018

Small satellites assembled by NASA and Rocket Lab will soon be making their way to New Zealand to be launched from the Mahia Peninsula.

Rocket Lab's first test flight in May 2017.

Rocket Lab's first test flight in May 2017. Photo: Supplied / Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab won the $9 million ($US6.95m) contract with US space agency NASA in 2015, which is part of their first ever Venture Class Mission.

The spacecraft, including 10 CubeSats - mini satellites used for space research - are scheduled to be launched within the next few months and into low Earth orbit.

Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck said there will be 13 spacecrafts on board in total.

"Each one of these individual spacecrafts has a different mission and scientific purpose," he said.

One of the spacecraft will be measuring radiation in the Van Allen belts, to understand their impact on spacecraft.

Mr Beck said the payloads have been set-up, checked and ready for flight at their American facility.

"We will get Flight Three (It's Business Time) underway and we have the NASA mission straight after it," he said.

Rocket Lab's 'It's Business Time' launch window was scheduled between the 20 April until 3 May, but unusual motor controller behaviour forced it to be pushed back.

The new window is yet to be announced.

This latest launch will be their first collaboration with NASA and Mr Beck said it was a privilege to be able to launch these aircrafts.

"The pay loads that we are flying are largely important and some of them engineers and scientists have spent many, many years building.

"It shows the level of support and commitment they (NASA) have with rocket lab and reinforces Rocket Lab's position within the industry," he said.

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