Rocket Lab space launch 'beginning of a new era'

Rocket Lab

The US/New Zealand company has developed revolutionary technology which allows for rocket launches at a fraction of the price of a conventional launch. Operators of tiny satellites don't have many options to get to space, and typically have to hitch rides on launches of much bigger probes.

This was the first time Electron's orbital deployment systems were tested, something CEO Peter Beck said was "the next crucial step" Rocket lab was "eager to test".

In the coming weeks, Rocket Lab engineers would analyse data from the launch. During the first flight test of the vehicle, appropriately called "It's a Test", the Electron made it to space but failed to make it to orbit. The Electron makes use of carbon composite materials for its rocket core, and 3-D printing techniques for its Rutherford rocket engines.

Then Rocket Lab also had some difficulty getting this second test flight off the ground.

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

In December, Electron missed its 10-day window after delays from weather and a last second abort.




The company has become the second in the world to have put something in orbit, and New Zealand the 11th nation.

Rocket Lab streamed its launch live, and it can still be viewed on YouTube, complete with informative commentary. "We're thrilled to reach this milestone so quickly after our first test launch".

Plus, it's unclear when Rocket Lab will launch next and which customer the company will fly.

The company hopes to begin commercial launches next year and eventually launch one rocket every week.

Rocket Lab now has five Electron vehicles in production, with the next launch expected to take place in early 2018.

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