Rocket Lab space launch 'beginning of a new era'

Rocket Lab space launch 'beginning of a new era'

Rocket Lab space launch 'beginning of a new era'

Rocket Lab's Electron rocket took off from a picturesque commercial launch base in New Zealand on Saturday, U.S. time, on a test flight that delivered three CubeSats into orbit on the company's first successful satellite deployment.

Celebrating the launch, Rocket Lab - which was founded by Peter Beck, a New Zealander, in 2006 - called the achievement the "beginning of a new era in commercial access to space". "And what we have seen today is really just the first chapter is what promises to be a fascinating story for the country and our technology and science sectors - I couldn't be more excited".

But all systems were go yesterday and the rocket reached orbit, deploying customer payloads at eight minutes and 31 seconds after lift-off. Company representatives said ahead of the first launch window's opening that they were anticipating delays, and wanted to wait for flawless conditions to conduct the test.

As with launch locations in the United States, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 is located on a remote area of land within New Zealand - providing increased safety and a natural barrier to curious humans. The rocket is 10 meters long and has a diameter of 50 centimeters. "Today we took a significant step towards that", he said yesterday.

Rocket Lab had initially scheduled its second Electron test flight for December, but various issues (mainly weather) stopped the company from going ahead with launch.

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"This is the first test carrying customer payloads and we'll be monitoring everything closely as we attempt to reach orbit", Beck said.

Rocket Lab aims to lower the cost of access to space, in a way parallel to, but distinct from, the mission of Elon Musk's SpaceX.

"After 30 years in the launch industry with hundreds of launches, each one is still a thrill". But Rocket Lab does have five completed Electron rockets available, and expects to fly again in "early 2018".

"This is a red-letter day for New Zealand; that was a flawless launch and a huge milestone for RocketLab".

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