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Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket reaches orbit and deploys satellites

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One of Rocket Lab’s Electron rockets is pictured in this photo released by the company in late November.
(Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket successfully reached orbit and deployed three satellites Saturday night Pacific time in the Huntington Beach rocket company’s second test flight.

The small-satellite launch company’s Electron rocket carried an Earth-imaging satellite and two satellites that enable weather and ship tracking, which were intended to help Rocket Lab gather “crucial data and test systems for the deployment state of a mission.”

The launch occurred at 5:44 p.m. Pacific time from Rocket Lab’s private launch complex on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. The nine-day launch window opened Friday at 5:30 p.m. Pacific time, but the company scrubbed that attempt due to weather conditions and a boat that came near the launch area.

This is Rocket Lab’s second attempt at this mission. The company was initially set to launch the satellites in mid-December, but delayed the launch after finding a “power fault” during ground checkouts.

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Though the company said it had put “corrective measures” in place, Rocket Lab chose to push the attempt into 2018 since the last-second scrub came just before the end of a 10-day launch window.

The company launched its Electron rocket for the first time in May and reached space but not orbit. The flight was terminated by range safety officials before the rocket could reach orbit because of a problem with the ground equipment used to track the launch.

samantha.masunaga@latimes.com

Twitter: @smasunaga

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