Rocket Lab Completes First Commercial Launch Of Its Electron Rocket

Katie Ramirez
November 13, 2018

Rocket Lab's 57-foot-tall (17 meters) Electron booster is scheduled to rise off the pad at the company's New Zealand launch site Saturday at 10 p.m. EST (0300 GMT and 4 p.m. local New Zealand time on November 11), on a mission dubbed "It's Business Time".

Six satellites are now orbiting Earth for paying customers, after a flawless launch yesterday just before 5pm.

The company has six Electron rockets in production and is said to have rapidly scaled up production at its California headquarters to meet ever-growing bookings for this year and next. It tried to start in may 2017, but because of problems in the telemetry, the launch was unsuccessful.

The plan is for Rocket Lab's second commercial flight to launch in as soon as a fortnight, and Beck says so far everything's on track to meet that deadline - which would put his company ahead of its aggressive timeline to reach a monthly launch frequency by the end of this year, fortnightly by the end of next year and weekly by 2020.

Rocket Lab hopes Sunday's mission will be the start of routine missions for NASA and other companies.

Previously published footage stream final launch of Delta II rocket with the ice probe.

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The Electron may be a small booster, but Rocket Lab thinks it can do very big things. As the satellite industry continues to innovate at a break-neck pace and the demand for orbital infrastructure grows, we're there with a production line of Electron vehicles ready to go and a private launch site licensed for flight every 72 hours.

Rocket Lab recently announced the site for its first launch pad outside New Zealand: Nasa's Wallops Launch Facility in the U.S. state of Virginia.

The start-up launched a 56 foot (17-metre) rocket from the Mahia Peninsula in the North Island, New Zealand, as part of a new nanotechnology space race.

Rocket Lab's third flight is planned for next month, and its fourth is slated for January 2019. Beck estimates there are over 100 companies trying to catch up.

Beck, the Rocket Lab chief, said he thinks the market is headed for a "brutal consolidation" over the next 12 to 18 months that will leave just a few companies. Beck told Forbes, "What we're looking to do here is build towards the next 100 rockets, not the next one rocket".

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