The aerospace company Rocket Lab has successfully launched an Electron rocket from the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand on Sunday after several failed attempts, Radio New Zealand (RNZ) reported. Rocket Lab was founded on the principal of opening access to space to better understand their planet and improve life on it.
"There's much more to this mission than meets the eye and we'll make an announcement about that in the next couple of days".
"Speechless. Just like that, @rocketlab reaches orbit and sets a new bar for launch by reaching orbit on just their 2nd test", satellite-powered data company Spire tweeted.
Rocket Lab streamed its launch live, and it can still be viewed on YouTube, complete with informative commentary.
Satellite payloads themselves are worth anywhere from $200,000 to "half a billion". Rocket Lab had their first foray into space three years ago with the launch of the Atea-1 suborbital sounding rocket.
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Rocket Lab now has five Electron vehicles in production, with the next launch expected to take place in early 2018, according to the company. That's why the company's Electron rocket isn't very big itself.
Before customers can start flying, Rocket Lab needed to show that the Electron could do its job, and getting to orbit was a key goal of this test. Its Rutherford rocket engines are created by a 3D printing process.
And that means Rocket Lab can finally start launching the payloads of its long customer lineup, which includes NASA, Spaceflight, and more. Its goals go beyond winning a prize competition.
This was the first time Electron's orbital deployment systems were tested, something CEO Peter Beck said was "the next crucial step" Rocket lab was "eager to test". "We're thrilled to reach this milestone so quickly after our first test launch".
Neither Rocket Lab nor Moon Express has given a date for a launch attempt.