Rocket Lab launches commercial rocket

Cristina Cross
November 14, 2018

The "It's Business Time" mission launched Sunday from New Zealand.

The rocket orbited six satellites companies Spire Global, Fleet Space Technologies, GeoOptics Inc. and the Irvine STEM CubeSat program, under which California students are doing small satellites.

The two-stage rocket, standing more than 55 feet (17 meters) tall, fired its nine kerosene-fuelled Rutherford main engines at 0350 GMT Sunday (10:50 p.m. EST Saturday) and climbed away from Launch Complex 1, Rocket Lab's privately-operated spaceport on Mahia Peninsula, located on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island.

But rockets have not downsized, and smallsats have been forced to hitch rides with much larger payloads on powerful rockets, like SpaceX's Falcon 9 or Russia's Soyuz rocket.

Rocket Lab will be streaming the launch on the internet from its launch site in New Zealand.

Rocket Lab's Electron Rocket took off from its launch pad at 4.50pm today. Rocket Lab's Electron rocket uses 3D-printed engines and is created to send small payloads, such as imaging and communications satellites weighing up to 150 kilograms, into space.

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"We're thrilled to be leading the small satellite launch industry by reaching orbit a second time and deploying more payloads", he continued.

Six satellites onboard a rocket launched from the Mahia Peninsula have all been successfully deployed into orbit.

Rocket Lab succeeded this weekend in moving from a company testing its rocket to one that has truly begun commercial operations. Rocket Lab was founded in the year 2006 and now is willing to launch a rocket every month in the year 2019, followed by one every fortnight towards the end of next year and one each week by 2020.

A rocket is being launched for none other than NASA in a few weeks.

Rocket Lab has a backlog of launches for the next 18 months, Beck said, which is "around a $3 billion pipeline".

"It's just an awesome accomplishment from the team and a textbook launch", Beck said. The Electron vehicle has a payload capacity of 150kg to 225kg to a 500km Sun-synchronous orbit and costs about $6 million per launch. Beck told Forbes, "What we're looking to do here is build towards the next 100 rockets, not the next one rocket".

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