NZ firm launches first commercial rocket


With the world's first private spaceport was made a purely commercial launch of a rocket into space.

The launch occurred at 4:50pm local time (03:50 UTC) on Sunday, from New Zealand's Māhia Peninsula. It put into orbit six small satellites on a commercial basis, and experimental vehicle created to test technologies for dealing with space debris. Rocket Lab's business time had been postponed twice over the past eight months, due to concerns about a motor controller for the first-stage Rutherford engines.

Rocket Lab's founder Peter Beck said today it was a flawless flight, and the launch marks a new era in space technology.

The Electron - which is about a quarter the size of SpaceX's 230ft (70m) tall Falcon 9 - released the payload about 45 minutes after the launch.

Mr Beck said Rocket Lab hopes to launch its next rocket, carrying equipment for NASA into orbit, in a few weeks time. "We're FedEx", Peter Beck, the New Zealand-born founder and chief executive of Rocket Lab told The New York Times. On Sunday morning, the rocket put into orbit six satellites and experimental spacecraft to test technologies to control space debris. The rocket will be able to launch smallsats and cubesats, and has a "Plug-In Payload" module which decouples payload integration from the main assembly.

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First up was the IRVINE01 CubeSat, built by students in Southern California, followed by two ship-tracking and weather-data-collection crafts for Spire Global, two pathfinder-data relay satellites from Fleet Space Technologies, and the CICERO 10 commercial weather satellite built by Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems for GeoOptics.

More about Rocket Lab and the future plans of the company, including a starting place in the United States, you can find here.

Now that the company has successfully launched their third rocket, the organization is getting ready for their next flight. "With the Electron launch vehicle, rapid and reliable access to space is now a reality for small satellites", he explains.

The company say that the schedule for the next mission will be announced shortly. The list price for launching 100 to 225 kilograms (220 to 500 pounds) of payload into low Earth orbit is $5 million.