Science

Rocket Lab launches commercial rocket

Rocket Lab launches commercial rocket”

Rocket Lab's maiden commercial launch on Sunday was a moment of pride for all New Zealanders, and pure Thunderbirds Are Go delight for geekier Kiwis as "It's Business Time" successfully launched a fleet of cube sats into low Earth orbit.

Success! It definitely was business time for Rocket Lab yesterday as its Electron launch vehicle blasted off from the Māhia Peninsula yesterday (November 11). 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. Those include two ship-tracking satellites for Spire Global; a small climate- and environment-monitoring satellite for GeoOptics; a small probe built by high school students in Irvine, California; and a demonstration version of a drag sail that would pull defunct satellites out of orbit.

One of Rocket Lab's customers, Australian startup Fleet Space Technologies, launched two Proxima satellites that will provide IoT device connectivity for the Earth's most remote locations.

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's chief Peter Beck says the company isn't resting on its laurels.

On board were seven space craft equipped with small satellites and one drag sail named NABEO - created to retire inactive satellites to help combat space junk.

Saturday's launch will mark the third liftoff for the Electron. While the company spent some of that time addressing issues with the Electron rocket, Beck told Ars that most of the company's work has been done to scale the company's operations. IRVINE01, as it is called, is also the first satellite that will have Accion Systems' electrospray thrust modules, tiny modular things that are highly efficient and ideal for small craft, according to Tech Crunch.

Liftoff of the Electron rocket came at 4:50 p.m.

There are at least 150 firms working on small rockets, although most probably will never get off the ground. Its remote location should allow Rocket Lab to launch frequently - the company hopes to get to one launch a week and then to one every three days - as air and boat traffic are relatively low.



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