After reaching orbit, the Curie kick stage deployed six satellites and a drag sail technology demonstrator to capture space junk. Dozens of employees gathered at the company's headquarters in Auckland clad in Rocket Lab's black-and-red colours and let out a series of primordial screams as the rocket took off, flew into space and dropped its satellite payload into orbit.
CEO Peter Beck told Mike Hosking regular access to space is the new normal, and Rocket Lab is leading the world - all the way from the Mahia Peninsula.
The satellites are from Spire, Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, Fleet Space Technologies, as well as a payload from the Irvine Cube Sat STEM Program and a technology demonstrator built by High Performance Space Structure Systems GmBH, will monitor social and commercial services such as deforestation, global internet from space, weather predictions and crops.
Yesterday marked the third attempt to launch the mission after it was postponed twice due to technical difficulties earlier this year. SpaceX can take far more cargo to space, but Rocket Lab is pitching its nimbleness and low-priced as ways to give new customers access to space and to do so on a more convenient schedule.
Electron is created to carry smaller payloads around 150 to 225 kg (330 to 495 lb), and the company intends to start ramping up its launches in 2019.
Image courtesy of Rocket Lab. Instead, the Electron's secret sauce comes from its 3D-printed engines, lightweight composite materials and unique battery-powered fuel pumps.
Paying for a dedicated launch vehicle, like Rocket Lab's Electron, can be more expensive for smallsat operators than hitching a ride on a larger rocket.
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About six weeks ago, it found out there was room on the Rocket Lab rocket.
Electron - two-stage rocket ultralight class that can send in low earth orbit, up to 225 pounds.
The launch followed January's successful test flight where it deployed three satellites.
The company's nearest competitors in the small rocket sector, including Virgin Orbit and Stratolaunch, now face even more pressure to get into orbit.
Rocket Lab succeeded this weekend in moving from a company testing its rocket to one that has truly begun commercial operations.
Rocket Lab most recent funding round was in 2017, when it raised US$75m at a post-money valuation of more than $1b.