This weekend, a small rocket company will try to launch its first commercial mission.
It will not be nearly as big a spectacle as the maiden flight of SpaceX’s powerful Falcon Heavy Rocket in February, which propelled Elon Musk’s sports car on a trajectory beyond Mars. But Rocket Lab’s Electron is a harbinger of a new breed of rocket – small, cheap, able to be launched frequently – that could prove much more important in the future of how companies send swarms of smaller satellites to orbit.
When is the launch and how can I watch it?
The launch window is stretched for nine days, four hours each day. The first opportunity will be on Sunday at 4:50 pm. New Zealand time . (In the United States, it will still be Saturday, and it will be a late night show, or 10:50 pm Eastern time).
Why is the Electron rocket so small?
Just like technology on Earth, satellites are getting smaller and now can be launched on smaller rockets. Firmaer og regeringer nu også ser fordeler til at designe konstellationer af små satellitter til at udføre opgaver, der var blevet håndteret af en gigantisk, dyr satellit. Met deze aanpak kan de fout van een satelliet worden behandeld door te verplaatsen over de resterende satellieten.
What other companies are building small rockets to launch smaller satellites?
There are at least 150 companies working on small rockets, although most probably will never get off the ground .
Some of the most promising are Virgin Orbit, started by billionaire Richard Branson; and Vector Launch and Firefly Aerospace, started by alumni of SpaceX.
Two other promising companies are Relativity Space, which looks like 3-D print most of its rocket, and Gilmour Space, based in Australia.