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A Rocket Lab Electron rocket awaits liftoff in New Zealand.


Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab, one of the spunkiest newcomers to the commercial space game, says it’s ready for its first mission of 2021.

The startup, with facilities in the US and New Zealand, will launch one of its Electron rockets to orbit as early as Friday night, Pacific Time. The mission is the 18th for Rocket Lab and has been named Another One Leaves the Crust.   

The payload being lifted from the company’s New Zealand launch pad to space is a microsatellite for OHB Group, a German company focused on aerospace, aviation and defense.

This’ll be a pretty routine launch for Rocket Lab, which has managed to carve out a niche providing launch services for smaller satellites, compared with companies like SpaceX and United Launch Alliance with their bigger rockets.

The kiwi company has some interesting plans in the works though, including a goal of eventually reusing its rocket boosters by catching them in midair with the assistance of parachutes and a helicopter.

Another One Leaves the Crust has a seven-minute launch window from 11:38 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. PT on Friday, with two weeks worth of backup launch days for leaving the crust. We’ll embed the launch livestream here as soon as it becomes available.

Follow CNET’s 2021 Space Calendar to stay up to date with all the latest space news this year. You can even add it to your own Google Calendar.  

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