SMC Alert: Rocket Lab successful launch

Rutherford Engine – via Rocket Lab

Japan's space agency, JAXA, plans to launch its own mini-rocket next month.

Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck said reaching orbit on a test flight was significant but successfully deploying a customer payload so early in a new rocket programme was nearly "unprecedented". Companies specializing in nano-satellites are limited when trying to find a launch company, and usually, have to hitch rides on launches of much bigger probes.

The first successful flight was carried out on 25 May previous year. Rocket Lab's Electron is in response to this growing market.

In the coming weeks, Rocket Lab engineers would analyse data from the launch.

The flight will be the company's second and will carry small Earth-imaging satellites for USA companies Planet Labs and Spire Global.

Meet "it's a Test", Rocket Lab's Electron rocket.

Rocket Lab had initially scheduled its second Electron test flight for December, but various issues (mainly weather) stopped the company from going ahead with launch. Rocket Lab said that if the mishap hadn't occurred, the Electron would have made it to orbit.

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This was the second of three planned test launches. The company had the option to fly anytime during four-hour increments each day of the window, but a combination of bad weather and a series of technical challenges prevented the Electron from taking off.

Now, the Electron has shown its both capable of getting to orbit and deploying payloads successfully.

"Congratulations to the team at Rocket Lab for the successful launch of their second rocket off the Mahia Peninsula", Mr Parker says. Its smaller size is meant to increase affordability and launch flexibility for customers with smaller payloads.

Plus, it's unclear when Rocket Lab will launch next and which customer the company will fly.

At full production, Rocket Lab expects to launch more than 50 times a year, and is regulated to launch up to 120 times a year, more than any other commercial or government launch provider in history.

"After 30 years in the launch industry with hundreds of launches, each one is still a thrill".

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