Published: Tue, November 13, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Rocket Lab Completes First Commercial Launch Of Its Electron Rocket

Rocket Lab Completes First Commercial Launch Of Its Electron Rocket

With the world's only private spaceport for the first time made a purely commercial launch of a rocket into space.

Now fixed, the Electron will house six satellites and a technology demonstrator which will be sent to low earth orbit and feed data back to earth. A bit of space trivia for readers - "It's Business Time" got its name in honor of being the first of the company's rockets to carry a full load of paying customers. On Sunday morning, November 11, with the world's only private launch site on the Peninsula Mahia in New Zealand was the flawless launching ultralight booster Electron.

Delayed from this past spring, the "It's Business Time" launch marks the beginning of Rocket Lab's acceleration toward launching at a weekly rate. Prior to this, Rocket Lab conducted two test launches in May 2017 and January 21, 2018, with the second test flight carrying Planet's Dove Pioneer Earth-imaging satellite, as well as two Lemur-2 satellites for Spire Global.

As CNBC noted, the Electron rocket is created to carry spacecraft up to the size of a refrigerator on a faster timetable than larger competitors like SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets, though it actually costs more than the latter.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Peter Beck said that the company's services were much in demand and as such the team would be swiftly moving onto "the incredibly exciting ELaNa 19 mission for NASA" in the next few weeks.

Rocket Lab is building small rockets priced at about $5.7 million a launch. The rocket will be able to launch smallsats and cubesats, and has a "Plug-In Payload" module which decouples payload integration from the main assembly.

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Two other promising companies are Relativity Space, which looks to 3D print most of its rocket, and Gilmour Space, based in Australia.

But Beck said many in the industry are willing to pay for the convenience of an Electron rocket. On that latter flight, called "Still Testing", the Electron successfully lofted four small satellites to orbit.

Rocket Lab's creation has a black carbon composite fuselage with "Electron" emblazoned on the side in white lettering.

There are at least 150 firms working on small rockets, although most probably will never get off the ground.

In comparison, 83 successful launches were made worldwide in 2017, of which 64 operated by commercial companies and the rest by space nations like China, India and Russian Federation.

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