Commercial rocket from New Zealand reaches orbit

22 January, 2018, 02:32 | Author: Grady Montgomery
  • Electron during pad integration – via Rocket Lab

Following successful first and second stage burns, Electron reached orbit and deployed customer payloads at 8 minutes and 31 seconds after lift-off.

He says deploying customer payloads on a second test flight "is nearly unprecedented".

Mr Beck, speaking this morning to TVNZ 1's Breakfast, teased that there was another object taken to space, possibly belonging to Rocket Lab themselves. "Today we took a significant step towards that". The Electron rocket carried three small satellites into orbit for Rocket Lab customers. It stands at just over 55 feet tall, a slight stature compared to SpaceX's Falcon 9, which is a lofty 180 feet tall. "This is not just about getting to orbit".

Small satellites are becoming more common.

. In the coming weeks Rocket Lab engineers will analyze the data from today's launch to inform future launches. In May, the first Electron vehicle failed to reach orbit.

Last May the company reached space with its first test launch, only to abort the mission due to a communication glitch.

The Electron rocket, built with 3D-printed engines and a mostly composite construction, is designed for rapid manufacture and a high launch rate.

This was the second of three planned test launches. Before it can do that, however, Rocket Lab needs to complete its vehicle testing program, which could continue with a launch as early as Friday night. The nine-day launch window opened Friday at 5:30 p.m. With their successful deployment, it's possible Rocket Lab may start commercial missions on its next flight.

"At full production, Rocket Lab expects to launch more than 50 times a year, and is regulated to launch up to 120 times a year, more than any other commercial or government launch provider in history". The successful launch has huge implications for the#Small Satellite market and for one company's dream for landing on the moon. Moon Express is also competing as part of the Google Lunar X Prize competition - a contest to send the first privately funded lander to the Moon's surface - and the deadline to win is coming up. Its goals go beyond winning a prize competition.

"Very nice launch. My heartiest congratulations to the Rocket Lab team".

Shortly after, it suspended launch attempts until early 2018.

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck told SpaceNews that the succesful launch meant the company would move forward with commercial missions.


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