Rocket Lab successfully launches first test rocket

Rocket Lab successfully launches first test rocket

Rocket Lab successfully launches first test rocket

Minister for Economic Development Simon Bridges has congratulated the team at Rocket Lab on the successful launch of their first test rocket on the Mahia Peninsula.

Rocket Lab aims to build a New Zealand base from which to launch small satellites into low orbit.

When announcing the launch window this month, Rocket Lab said it was a significant milestone for the company "and the space industry globally". "Team delighted. More to follow!"

Ships and planes need re-routing every time a rocket is launched, which limits opportunities in crowded USA skies, but New Zealand, a country of 4 million people in the South Pacific, has only Antarctica to its south.

Today's launch was the first of three test flights scheduled for this year.

"We didn't quite reach orbit but we had a great flight".

The goal of the launch is to collect data to inform future tests and commercial launches, making space more accessible in New Zealand.

The successful launch of a low cost, 3D-printed rocket is an important step in the commercial race to bring down financial and logistical barriers to space while also making New Zealand an unlikely space hub. Rocket Lab will target getting to orbit on the second test and look to maximize the payload the rocket can carry. "We're one of a few companies to ever develop a rocket from scratch and we did it in under four years. Known applications include improved weather reporting, Internet from space, natural disaster prediction, up-to-date maritime data as well as search and rescue services", says Beck.

To drive down the cost of access to space, the Electron takes advantage of several technologies that might be considered experimental for the space business, including carbon-composite construction of its core and 3-D printing for most of the parts of its Rutherford rocket engine. The company has received about $150 million in venture capital funding.

Rocket Lab's commercial phase will see Electron fly already-signed customers including NASA, Spire, Planet, Moon Express and Spaceflight.

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