Rocket Lab hopes to launch commercial rocket

James Marshall
November 12, 2018

It is the company's first commercial rocket launch, after several attempts to launch its "Business Time" rocket in June and July were unsuccessful, due to problems with a motor controller or bad weather. Now that the issue has been resolved, Rocket Lab has a backlog of launches in the next 18 months that CEO Peter Beck told CNBC is "around a $US3 ($4) billion pipeline", and it hopes to be launching once a week by 2020.

US -based aerospace manufacturer Rocket Lab completed its first successful commercial launch on Saturday, sending seven spacecraft including "six tiny satellites and a drag sail demonstrator" into orbit aboard a relatively small Electron rocket designed primarily for smallsats and cubesats, Spaceflight Now reported.

This satellite launch mission was nicknamed "It's Business Time", in reference to its fully commercial nature as well as in tribute to one of the songs by Flight of the Conchords, a New Zealand parody-pop duo. After first reaching orbit on Electron's second stage, the Curie kick stage successfully separated and circularized its orbit before deploying six satellites for customers Spire Global, Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, Fleet Space Technologies and the Irvine CubeSat Stem Program.

The launch was originally set for April with just four satellites but was delayed multiple times.

On the live webcast of the launch, Rocket Lab touted the last-minute adds to its manifest as an indication of its ability to get to space quickly. "With the Electron launch vehicle, rapid and reliable access to space is now a reality for small satellites", says Beck.

Rocket Lab executed its second orbital mission today, sending six small satellites and an experimental drag sail into orbit from an oceanside launch pad in New Zealand.

Rocket Lab's launches don't feature any high-drama landings like we've come to expect from SpaceX and Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin.

The Electron rockets use 3D-printed engines and can carry payloads up to about 150kg.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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