Rocket Lab Launches Japanese Satellite From Space Company’s Complex in New Zealand

Rocket Lab Launches Japanese Satellite From Space Company’s Complex in New Zealand
An electron rocket on the launch pad at the Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand, on Dec. 15, 2023. (Rocket Lab via AP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand—California-based Rocket Lab, which specializes in putting small satellites into orbit, launched a Japanese satellite on Friday from the space company’s complex on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula.

The mission, named “The Moon God Awakens,” was initially scheduled for Wednesday but was postponed due to forecast strong winds. The Electron rocket launched at 5:06 p.m. local time (0406 GMT).

The rocket successfully carried the TSUKUYOMI-I satellite into orbit on behalf of Japanese startup Institute for Q-shu Pioneers of Space Inc., Rocket Lab said in a statement more than two hours after the launch.

The synthetic-aperture radar satellite, named after a Japanese god of the moon, will collect images of the Earth, Rocket Lab said.

The mission is Rocket Lab’s 10th for 2023, exceeding its annual record of nine set in 2022.

It is the 42nd Electron launch from Mahia or from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Wallops Island, Virginia, since 2017. Rocket Lab was founded in New Zealand in 2006.

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