Date:16 May 2017
Rocket Lab – yes, they do what their name says – is set to attempt it’s first rocket launch in preparation for future space missions later this month.
The aerospace startup company will open a 10-day launch attempt window for their Electron rocket from Launch Complex One. This will take place from their private launch site in the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand from Monday, 22 May.
This first Electron launch is dubbed, “It’s a test” and is the first of three planned ahead of the first commercial launch. If the launch is a success, Rocket Lab will achieve a world-first within the space industry by sending a rocket into orbit from a private launch pad.
Electron could reach an elliptical orbit between 300 km and 500 km above earth and is capable of sending small satellites into orbit. Electron consists of two rocket stages and its designed allows it to carry a payload of up to 225 kilograms.
The rocket was constructed using advanced carbon composite to provide it with a strong but lightweight structure. The most impressive part of the rocket must be it’s Rutherford engines that will power the propulsion system. These partially electric liquid propellant rocket engines were designed by Rocket Lab and is largely constructed using 3D printing.
In the image below preparations are underway for the launch.
Rocket Lab wants to tap into the small satellite market and offers low-cost and high-frequency space flights compared to private space players like SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic among others.
Apart from carving a niche for itself in the small orbital satellite launch space, Rocket Lab’s test launch will be invaluable to the amount of data collection that could possibly be gathered to inform future test and commercial launches.
One thing is clear, Rocket Lab has a lot riding on the success of the launch to secure a place within the space revolution.