Rocket Lab launches second successful flight

Rutherford Engine – via Rocket Lab

The mission, dubbed "Still Testing", was the second using the company's lightweight Electron rocket.

A New Zealand space start-up, Rocket Labs, says it has become the first private company to launch its own rocket from its own launch pad.

Rocket Lab blasted off into space on Saturday, taking a major step toward opening low-priced access for a new generation of satellites.

"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".

Rocket Lab's big ambition is to be a dedicated launcher of small satellites.

"It's absolutely lovely", Beck told SpaceNews after the launch."It puts us into a really good position to really deliver on what we said many years ago, that we're here to open up space for business".

Satellite payloads themselves are worth anywhere from $200,000 to "half a billion".

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The first successful flight was carried out on 25 May a year ago. The second flight, called "Still Testing", will attempt to place three satellites into orbit, an Earth-imaging Dove satellite for the company Planet, as well as two Lemur-2 weather and ship tracking satellites for Spire Global.

Rocket Lab's nine-day launch window opened on Saturday, with more than 50 people eagerly awaiting blast-off at the unofficial viewing site off Blucks Pit Rd, Nuhaka, only to be disappointed by a "rogue" boat.

Small satellites are becoming more common.


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.

Now, the Electron has shown its both capable of getting to orbit and deploying payloads successfully. Its smaller size is meant to increase affordability and launch flexibility for customers with smaller payloads. Participants have to complete their lunar excursions before March 31st, 2018 in order to win the grand prize money.

"Today marks the beginning of a new era in commercial access to space", said Beck. They're thrilled to reach this milestone so quickly after their first test launch.

Neither Rocket Lab nor Moon Express has given a date for a launch attempt.

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