Rocket Lab 18th Suborbital Rocket Launch results in Peaceful Protest

8th Apr 2021
Rocket Lab 18th launch

Rocket Lab recently conducted its 18th orbital rocket launch mission on Tuesday 23rd March. The mission included a US military satellite, which led to some public concern. A peaceful protest march was then announced, forcing the police to contact the protest leaders and investigate the matter. 

Rocket Lab & Rocket Launch Protest

Interestingly, Rocket Lab scheduled its rocket launch for the Tuesday morning. The launch will took place on Māhia Peninsula in New Zealand. The protest then took place on Wednesday 24th March. So, the activists in Opoutama took to the streets from 11 am to 2.30 pm, but the satellite by that time was already in space.

According to Rocket Lab spokesperson Morgan Bailey, she did not know about any protests scheduled for the actual launch day. However, Ms. Bailey added that this orbital mission for the US Department of Defense had stirred quite a lot of public interest, so everyone would just have to wait and see. 

The satellite in question, Gunsmoke J, is the first spacecraft in the series of defense and observation satellites. The device was commissioned by the US Army’s Space and Missile Defence Command (SMDC) and provides important tactical data to the military. 

Activists are concerned that the government will use this satellite data to target nuclear weapons, not only conventional ones. According to the Peace Foundation International Affairs and Disarmament Committee, this would violate the nuclear-free act. 

The upcoming protest was organized by locals, positioning themselves as Rocket Lab Monitor Group. As part of the Space For Peace campaign protest, the activists started their march at village pou, passed along Rongomaiwahine drive, and return to the pou. 

A Wairoa woman, who supposedly put the Rocket Lab Monitor website online on 15th February received a police call on 2nd March. The woman expressed her surprise because she believed that her actions against the rocket launch were justified and fell within existing legal frameworks’ regulations.

The police, in turn, explained their call, stating that it was their goal to ensure all community members are safe and feel safe. Besides, the police have also spoken with activists posting on Facebook and said that everyone was willing to talk and collaborate. 

Rocket Lab spokeswoman Morgan Bailey added that their rocket launch was announced to the press a few weeks ago, but, as usual, the company kept all major details to itself. 

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