Rocket Lab space launch 'beginning of a new era'

He said the successful launch meant New Zealand was able to join what he called an exclusive club, that usually belonged to the super powers like the U.S. and Russian Federation, when it came to space activities.

"At full production, Rocket Lab expects to launch more than 50 times a year, and is regulated to launch up to 120 times a year, more than any other commercial or government launch provider in history".

On its second attempt this year, #Rocket Lab successfully launched three satellites into low #Earth Orbit on its Electron rocket from its New Zealand launch facility.

Just like that, Rocket Lab reaches orbit and sets a new bar for launch by reaching orbit on just their second test.

"Reaching orbit on a second test flight is significant on its own, but successfully deploying customer payloads so early in a new rocket program is nearly unprecedented". "Rocket Lab was founded on the principal of opening access to space to better understand our planet and improve life on it. Today we took a significant step towards that".

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Yesterday's launch followed the company's first launch last May, in which the rocket got to space but did not make it to orbit after range safety officials had to kill the flight.

The US start-up, with a subsidiary in New Zealand, first attempted to launch the rocket on Saturday, but had to interrupt the process when two rogue vessels were spotted nearby.

Rocket Lab said it would be launching every week at a relatively cheap $US4.9 million a pop.

Peter Beck says the Electron rocket carried commercial satellites into space - but also something else. Its first and only flight occurred on November 20, 2009, from Great Mercury Island near the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand.

Plus, it's unclear when Rocket Lab will launch next and which customer the company will fly. The biggest issue that turned up was finding a suitable launch site.

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"Our incredibly dedicated and talented team have worked tirelessly to develop, build and launch Electron".

The US/New Zealand company has developed revolutionary technology which allows for rocket launches at a fraction of the price of a conventional launch. That's why the company's Electron rocket isn't very big itself.

"The engines ignited but a couple engines didn't like the temperature of the liquid oxygen, so it automatically shut down", Beck said. Combined, they provide 34,500 pounds (15,649 kilograms) of thrust at liftoff - increasing to 41,500 pounds (18,824 kilograms) of thrust in a vacuum.

The rocket is 17 meters long, which is around a quarter the size of the Falcon 9 rocket from Elon Musk's rival company SpaceX.

The rocket was also carrying three mini-satellites that have gone into orbit on behalf of paying customers.

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Small satellites are becoming more common.

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  • Ryan Wade