Third Rocket Lab release may be the beginning of something big



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The rocket is on the block and ready to goRocket Lab

The US company Rocket Lab is preparing for its third launch, the first fully commercial flight, and an important milestone to prove the feasibility of smaller rockets.

Its Electron rocket, nicknamed "It's Business Time," is slated to take off from Rocket Lab's Launch Complex 1 on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island this weekend. The rocket has a nine-day launch window with the first launching opportunity arriving on Saturday, November 10 at 10 p.m., Eastern time.

On board, there will be seven payloads, including a demonstration to navigate the orbiting space junk and a student-led experiment. If all goes according to plan, the rocket will put these charges in an orbit 500 kilometers (310 miles) above Earth.

"It looks good," said company CEO Peter Beck. Forbes, noting that this first commercial flight was "an important milestone for the industry".

His rocket, Electron, is not particularly large by regular standards. At 17 meters (56 feet) high, it's about a quarter the size of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. But what Rocket Lab is betting on is a emerging field of low-cost rocket launchers that may be ready for launch faster than their larger counterparts.

Each Electron costs only US $ 5.7 million, compared to US $ 50 million for a Falcon 9 rocket. And while a customer may have to wait up to two years to get a ride on a rocket like Falcon 9, the Rocket Lab is promising to shorten the wait for just six months.

This release was originally scheduled to take place in April this year, but several problems with the rocket caused the launch to be postponed. Beck noted, however, that preparing for the future was the company's primary goal at the time.

"What we're trying to do here is build the next 100 rockets, not the next rocket," he said. "We've always been very bold and we're not as ashamed to say we expect to be pitching into space more often than anyone else in the world."

The company has a short-term goal to launch a rocket each month, increasing to one every fortnight by the end of 2019 and one per week by 2020, inclusive from second launch site in Virginia and possibly one in the UK. And the next launch, planned for December, is a big one – a mission to bring some small satellites to NASA in orbit. "It's a great honor for anyone to lift NASA flights," Beck said.

Strictly speaking, this is not the first commercial flight of the Rocket Lab. Its last in January of 2018, called "Still testing" included some commercial cargoes on board, while its first flight in & nbsp; May 2017 ("It's a test") was just a test flight. But this flight signals the company to move from research and development to full-fledged operations.

(Note, these quirky names are invented by the company team.) "It's a very serious business," Beck said. "You have to have fun along the way.")

And if they are successful with this and future releases, it will be music to the ears of this little corner of the launch industry. Small satellite launchers are on the rise, with several other companies announcing their own ambitions to try to match the Rocket Lab and launch their own smaller rockets.

So far, Rocket Lab is at the forefront of this new field. And with hundreds of companies now seeking access to space, not everyone will be looking at larger companies to reach orbit. For them, rockets like Electron will be crucial.

"I think this is an important milestone for the industry," Beck said. "There is a large backlog of customers. For me, it really is the starting point, and I hope we can see a lot more innovation in the space industry and new interesting projects and services that have a big impact on all of us on Earth. "

First of all, there is the small question of getting the company's business hours into orbit. And if all goes well at the end of this weekend the Rocket Lab – and many others – will have cause for celebration.

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The rocket is on the block and ready to goRocket Lab

The North American company Rocket Lab is preparing for its third launch, the first commercial flight and an important milestone to prove the feasibility of smaller rockets.

Its Electron rocket, nicknamed "It's Business Time," is slated to take off from Rocket Lab's Launch Complex 1 on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island this weekend. The rocket has a nine-day launch window with the first launching opportunity arriving on Saturday, November 10 at 10 p.m., Eastern time.

On board, there will be seven payloads, including a demonstration to navigate the orbiting space junk and a student-led experiment. If all goes according to plan, the rocket will put these charges in an orbit 500 kilometers (310 miles) above Earth.

"It looks good," said company CEO Peter Beck. Forbes, noting that this first commercial flight was "an important milestone for the industry".

His rocket, Electron, is not particularly large by regular standards. At 17 meters (56 feet) high, it's about a quarter the size of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. But what Rocket Lab is betting on is an emerging field of small-throwers – low-cost rockets that may be ready to launch faster than their larger competitors.

Each Electron costs only $ 5.7 million compared to up to $ 50 million for a Falcon 9 rocket. And while a customer may have to wait up to two years to hitch a ride on a rocket such as Falcon 9, Rocket Lab is promising to shorten the wait for just six months.

This release was due to take place in April of this year, but several problems with the rocket caused the release to be postponed. Beck noted, however, that preparing for the future was the company's primary goal at the time.

"What we're trying to do here is build the next 100 rockets, not the next rocket," he said. "We've always been very bold and we're not as ashamed to say we expect to be pitching into space more often than anyone else in the world."

The company has a short-term goal of launching a rocket every month, increasing to a fortnight by the end of 2019 and one per week by 2020, including from a second launch site in Virginia and possibly one in the UK. And the next launch, planned for December, is a big one – a mission to bring some small satellites to NASA in orbit. "It's a great honor for anyone to lift NASA flights," Beck said.

Strictly speaking, this is not the first commercial flight of the Rocket Lab. Its last, in January 2018, called "Still Testing", included some commercial cargoes on board, while the first flight in May 2017 ("It's a test"). it was just a test flight. But this flight signals the company to move from research and development to full-fledged operations.

(Note, these quirky names are invented by the company team.) "It's a very serious business," Beck said. "You have to have fun along the way.")

And if they are successful with this and future releases, it will be music to the ears of this little corner of the launch industry. Small satellite launchers are on the rise, with several other companies announcing their own ambitions to try to match the Rocket Lab and launch their own smaller rockets.

So far, Rocket Lab is at the forefront of this new field. And with hundreds of companies now seeking access to space, not everyone will be looking at larger companies to reach orbit. For them, rockets like Electron will be crucial.

"I think this is an important milestone for the industry," Beck said. "There is a large backlog of customers. For me, it really is the starting point, and I hope we can see a lot more innovation in the space industry and new interesting projects and services that have a big impact on all of us on Earth. "

First of all, there is the small question of getting the company's business hours into orbit. And if all goes well at the end of this weekend the Rocket Lab – and many others – will have cause for celebration.

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