Rocket Lab achieves orbit on historic launch from New Zealand

22 January, 2018, 02:34 | Author: Jacqueline Daniels
  • The rocket lifted off from its launch pad on Sunday

Company representatives said ahead of the first launch window's opening that they were anticipating delays, and wanted to wait for flawless conditions to conduct the test.

"We're thrilled to reach this milestone so quickly after our first test launch", Rocket Lab CEO and founder Peter Beck said in a statement. 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. That's why the company's Electron rocket isn't very big itself.

As with launch locations in the United States, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 is located on a remote area of land within New Zealand - providing increased safety and a natural barrier to curious humans.

Rocket Lab launched'Still Testing at 2.45pm on Sunday
SUPPLIED Rocket Lab launched 'Still Testing' at 2.45pm on Sunday

California-based company Rocket Lab says its Electron rocket, which carries only a small payload of about 150 kg, successfully deployed an earth imaging and two other satellites for weather and ship tracking.

Yesterday the company tried six times to launch its rocket, with one attempt stopping sixty seconds before take off due to a boat entering the exclusion zone downrange from the launch pad. When the web-cast shutdown, Electron Still Testing made orbit. Its Rutherford rocket engines are created by a 3D printing process.

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

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

Richard Easther, a professor of physics at the University of Auckland, told Stuff.co.nz that Sunday was a "red-letter day for New Zealand," thanks to the Electron's orbital success.

Plus, it's unclear when Rocket Lab will launch next and which customer the company will fly. Originally, the company had planned to do three flight tests, but Beck indicated that if this flight went well enough, Rocket Lab might skip the third test altogether.

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

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