Space race: Rocket Lab successfully sends rocket into orbit

Muriel Hammond
January 22, 2018

However, because the launch vehicle is so cheap to manufacture, Rocket Lab can charge $5 million to put a payload into space, placing spaceflight within the range of smaller, less deep-pocketed customers.

Minister for Economic Development David Parker has welcomed the successful second test rocket launch as another significant milestone in the development of a New Zealand space industry.

Mr Beck, speaking this morning to TVNZ 1's Breakfast, teased that there was another object taken to space, possibly belonging to Rocket Lab themselves.

"There's much more to this mission than meets the eye and we'll make an announcement about that in the next couple of days".

A ROCKET was launched from Mahia at 2.43pm yesterday, carrying small commercial satellites, and successfully reached orbit.

Satellite payloads themselves are worth anywhere from $200,000 to "half a billion". The next launch was expected to take place this year. Compared to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, a neck-straining 180-feet tall, the Electron is very small. Operators of tiny satellites don't have many options to get to space, and typically have to hitch rides on launches of much bigger probes. The engines were made with 3D printers to save money. The successful launch has enormous implications for the#Small Satellite market and for one company's dream for landing on the moon.

The dreams of one Rocket Lab customer, in particular, were buoyed by the successful flight of the Electron. Moon Express is the company's most high profile customer.

The Electron can carry up to about 225 kg of payload. Participants have to complete their lunar excursions before March 31st, 2018 in order to win the grand prize money.

Chief executive Peter Beck said the day marked a new era in commercial access to space. It aims to develop a low-priced transportation system to allow customers to send payloads, first to the moon, and then to destinations throughout the solar system at an affordable price.

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