Rocket Lab has successfully launched its third rocket, its first fully commercial flight and a key milestone for the fledgling…
Their Electron rocket, nicknamed “It’s Business Time”, lifted off from the company’s Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula at 10.50pm Eastern time yesterday. Nine minutes after launch, the two-stage rocket separated and the upper stage – called Curie – took the satellites into their final orbit orbit 500 kilometers (310 miles) above the surface of Earth.
“Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said in a statement.” With the Electron launch vehicle e, rapid and reliable access to space is now a reality for small satellites. “
The rocket is just 17 meters tall, a quarter the size of its bigger siblings like SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. But at just $ 5.7 million a launch compared to $ 50 million for a Falcon 9, Rocket Lab are hoping their rocket can be at the forefront of a new field of small-set launchers – cheaper rockets that can be ready to launch more quickly at lower cost .
This was the company’s third launch, in May 2017, and its second (“Still Testing”) in January 2018. It’s Business Time was supposed to lift off in April this
On board the rocket were six different satellites, and seven payloads in total, for a variety of companies. One was a drag sail demonstrator, designed to practice de-orbiting space junk in orbit. Called NABEO, it was developed by High Performance Space Structure Systems GmBH (HPS GmbH) in Germany.
Also on board was a student-led experiment from six high school schools in Irvine, California called Irvine01. This cubesat will take images of Venus and other celestial objects, and also has a novel electric propulsion system on board.
There were two Lemur-2 cubesats on board, built by Spire Global from California, to monitor weather and track aircraft on Earth. The Cicero-10 weather satellite for California-based company GeoOptics and two Proxima cubesats, from Australian “Internet of Things” company Fleet, were also launched.
“We are thrilled to be leading the small satellite launch industry by reaching orbit a second time and deploying more payloads, “Beck added in the statement. “The team carried out a flawless flight with incredibly precise orbital insertion.”
With this launch complete, the company is already gearing up for its next flight. In early December, it is planning to launch the ELaNa 19 mission for NASA, its first flight for the US space agency, and an indicator that the company can launch regularly.
Rocket Lab, which was founded in 2006, wants to launch een raket elke maand in 2019, dan één elke twee weken tegen het einde van 2019, en één elke week tegen 2020. Het bedrijf’s prive-launchpad in Nieuw-Zeeland, is het eerste privaatbedrijfslot in de wereld, is gelicentieerd om te starten tot 120 rockets a year.
“I think this [launch] is an important milestone for the industry,” Beck told Forbes prior to the launch. “There is such a backlog of customers. For me it’s really the starting point. “
Now, with the launch of It’s Business Time under its belt, Rocket Lab can look towards those future launches as it aims to cement its standing as the leader in small-launched launch vehicles. 19659033]