Tag: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab’s Electron Is Making Space Open For Business (Feat. CEO Peter Beck)

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Rocket Lab is a private space company out of New Zealand founded by rocket engineer Peter Beck. Their goal is to open up space and satellite technology for business by building cheap, disposable rockets that are powerful and flexible.

Their Electron rocket is tiny – less than 1/3 the size of the Falcon 9 – but can launch 62% of payloads into space for only $5 million.

To do this, they have pioneered new technologies like the 3D printed Rutherford engine (named after Ernest Rutherford) that is powered by a battery pack, and completely carbon-fiber construction.


The Electron rocket is perfect for micro satellites and cube satellites, with a payload capacity of up to 225 kilograms.

Their first launch of the Electron was called It’s a Test, which achieved orbit, but had communication issues and had to be destroyed.

Their second launch was called Still Testing, which was a complete success, launching two commercial payloads and the Humanity Star satellite.

They also have built their own launch facility on the Mahia peninsula in New Zealand, which is the first privately owned launch facility in the world and the first in the southern hemisphere.

Their first commercial flight, called It’s Business Time is scheduled to launch in late Spring/early Summer 2018.

Rocket Lab Has Reached The Orbit For The First Time

This weekend, US spaceflight startup Rocket Lab successfully launched its second Electron rocket for a crucial flight test — and reached orbit for the first time.

The Electron took off from the company’s New Zealand launch facility at 2:43PM local time on Sunday (or 8:43PM ET on Saturday), and about eight and a half minutes later, the rocket deployed three small commercial satellites.

It marks the first time the Electron has completed a full mission, and that may mean Rocket Lab is ready to start commercial flights of the vehicle.

Reaching orbit on a second test flight is significant on its own, but successfully deploying customer payloads so early in a new rocket program is almost unprecedented,” Peter Beck, Rocket Lab’s CEO, said in a statement.

Rocket Lab was founded on the principal of opening access to space to better understand our planet and improve life on it. Today we took a significant step towards that.

Rocket Lab’s big ambition is to be a dedicated launcher of small satellites. That’s why the company’s Electron rocket isn’t very big itself.

It stands at just over 55 feet tall, a slight stature compared to SpaceX’s Falcon 9, which is a lofty 180 feet tall. And the Electron’s capacity is limited, only capable of getting between 330 and 500 pounds to lower Earth orbit.

For comparison, the Falcon 9 can get around 50,000 pounds to a similar orbit.

But demand for this type of small rocket has been high. 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.

That’s not always ideal, since it means waiting for someone else launch and possibly going to a less-than-desirable orbit.

But with a launcher like the Electron, small satellite operators can potentially pay for an entire rocket ride for their hardware, and Rocket Lab says individual flights may start as low as $4.9 million.

The company says it already has a full manifest of customers waiting for trips.

Before customers can start flying, Rocket Lab needed to show that the Electron could do its job, and getting to orbit was a key goal of this test.

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.

Some communications equipment on the ground lost contact with the rocket during flight, causing the vehicle to abort its mission. Rocket Lab said that if the mishap hadn’t occurred, the Electron would have made it to orbit.

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Pass it on: New Scientist