Rocket Lab's Electron rocket reaches orbit and deploys satellites

22 January, 2018, 02:33 | Author: Grady King
  • Rocket launched in New Zealand deploys commercial satellites

Called "Still Testing", the flight was originally planned for December, when Rocket Lab had a 10-day launch window.

"Once again, we're expecting to scrub multiple times as we wait for flawless conditions and make sure everything on the vehicle is performing as it should", said Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab.

It's a big development for the industry, meaning that smaller companies will now be able to have their satellites launched into orbit for a relative fraction of what it cost in the past. The flight was terminated by range safety officials before the rocket could reach orbit because of a problem with the ground equipment used to track the launch.

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Still Testing will carry small Earth-imaging satellites for USA companies Planet Labs and Spire Global.

Last May the company reached space with its first test launch, only to abort the mission due to a communication glitch. The Electron makes use of carbon composite materials for its rocket core, and 3-D printing techniques for its Rutherford rocket engines.

New Zealand officially joined the ranks of commercial space-faring nations on Sunday and made history at the same time.

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Now, the Electron has shown its both capable of getting to orbit and deploying payloads successfully.

"Very nice launch. My heartiest congratulations to the Rocket Labs team". But Rocket Lab does have five completed Electron rockets available, and expects to fly again in "early 2018". Its smaller size is meant to increase affordability and launch flexibility for customers with smaller payloads.

"We're thrilled to reach this milestone so quickly after our first test launch", Beck said.

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"Still Testing" was originally slated to blast off during a launch window in November of past year, but the launch was delayed after a power fault in the ground systems triggered an automatic abort just seconds before liftoff.



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