An American aerospace manufacturer, Rocket Lab aims to launch its first commercial Electron rocket carrying satellites for at least two companies. The company will launch its small rocket just three months after completing its second test from its privately-owned launch site.
Electron made its first flight in May 2017, four years after its development. The first test flight was appropriately named “It’s a Test” and made it to space, though the rocket failed to achieve the orbit due to a glitch in communication system situated on the ground. The company fixed the problem and put the vehicle on test in a mission called “Still Testing” in January this year. The vehicle not only made it into orbit but also deployed four satellites including a secret disco ball probe made by the Rocket Lab’s CEO Peter Beck. The flight’s name for its maiden mission was put up for voting in social media platform with “It’s Business Time” emerging as fan favorite and a continuation of company’s previous mission names.
The two-stage electron rocket stands at 17m in height with a diameter of 1.2m. It is capable of carrying a minimum payload of 150 kg and can carry with itself a maximum payload of 225 kg. The rocket is built up implementing state-of-art, exceptional and unimaginable technologies. The second stage of the vehicle is empowered by an efficient version of Rutherford Engine which provides it with optimal performance in the vacuum. The Rutherford engine is unique as it is the first kerosene/oxygen engine to implement 3D printing technology for its spare parts.
On the upcoming launch, the vehicle will be carrying two Lemur-2 CubeSats for a company called Spire that operates a constellation of such satellites for collecting ship-tracking and weather data. It will also be having aboard a satellite built by a company Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems for GeoOptics that also is developing a constellation of satellites to collect weather data through GPS radio occultations.
Rocket Lab announced that the window for the mission “It’s Business Time” from its owned New Zealand launch site would open at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time on 19 April.
Rocket Lab is the only small launch provider that has reached the orbit and has fulfilled the promises to open access to space for small satellites. The company aims to increase its launch rate as the year progresses and plans to reach a rate of one launch a month by the end of the year.
The upcoming mission will mark the beginning of customer operations for the company which claims to the electron flights both for 2018 and 2019.
Picture credited by Rocket Lab