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Rocket Lab sends Electron rocket into orbit, marking milestone for moon mission

22 January, 2018, 02:34 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Rocket Lab to Attempt Second Launch as Early as Tonight

At approximately 2.45pm yesterday its second rocket "Still Testing" was launched from Mahia peninsula, successfully reaching orbit before deploying eight and a half minutes later. To put this in perspective, we are now one of just a dozen countries to have successfully built and deployed an rocket that can put satellites into orbit. "We're really looking to kick it into an unprecedented flight rate" after testing is complete, Beck told CNBC. I was unable to discern from the webcast if one or all three satellites were inserted into orbit.

The small-satellite launch company's Electron rocket carried an Earth-imaging satellite and two satellites that enable weather and ship tracking, which were meant to help Rocket Lab gather "crucial data and test systems for the deployment state of a mission".

It was the second test flight of Rocket Lab's commercially-developed Electron booster, which is sized to haul up to 330 pounds (150 kilograms) into sun-synchronous orbit 300 miles (500 kilometers) above Earth. "This is not just about getting to orbit".

In December, Electron missed its 10-day window after delays from weather and a last second abort. Its first stage is powered by a cluster of nine Rutherford electric engines using refined kerosene (RP-1) and liquid oxygen (LOX).

"Today we took a significant step towards that", Mr Beck said.

This was the second of three planned test launches.

Meet "it's a Test", Rocket Lab's Electron rocket. CEO Peter Beck said at the time the problems involved "third-party error" and were fixed. The Electron is entirely made of carbon composite materials. The company tried to launch the first day of the window, but ultimately had to delay until Sunday in New Zealand, when the Electron finally took flight.

"This success should instil confidence in Rocket Lab's customers, starting a busy 2018 launch schedule".

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