Rocket Lab has successfully launched its first commercial launch, setting a dominant position on the fast-growing market for flying small satellites in the orbit.
The Electron missile company was launched at 4:50 local time from the November 11th new launch site with six satellites.
"We are thrilled to lead the small industry to launch satellites by reaching the orbit and implementing more loads," said CEO Peter Beck.
Electron – about a quarter of the size of SpaceX, a tall 70-foot tall Falcon 9 – is designed for a load of 150 to 225 kg (330 to 496 lb) weight in orbit around the Earth.
This size is not a coincidence: Rocket Lab is ready to take over the business of dozens of well-funded companies that produce large constellations of small satellites relying on powerful, miniaturized electronics.
The closest competitors of the company, including Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit; Vector Launch, created by former SpaceX team members; and Firefly Aerospace – are now facing repression to reach orbits.
Headquartered in Southern California, Rocket Lab was founded in 2008 under the leadership of Peter Beck's chief executive and emerged as part of the DARPA Small Armored Rock Engine Development Program for the US Army. He won $ 25 million in support from the New Zealand government, and last year he raised $ 75 million from investors in the Silicon Valley, valuing the company at $ 1 billion.
Like its unique missile that saves costs with ultra lightweight composite materials and a turbocharger on the battery, Rocket Lab is the only private company with its own launch site on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. That, Beck says, gives him the edge over other companies that want to offer a fast and flexible ability to launch satellite manufacturers; the company will also operate from NASA launch in Virginia.
Beck says he hopes the company will begin flying each week in 2019. The company launched its first rocket in January 2018, setting satellites and eagerly launching an art project in the orbit.
The second launch of the company was expected in June, but smaller rocket issues and then radar launching systems led to delays – a typical experience in space operations. Now a mission called "It's business time" – joking on another global icon of kiwi – finally marks the transition of the company to commercial operations.
"With Electron's launch vehicle, fast and reliable access to space is now a reality for small satellites," says Beck. To prove this, the next mission of the company will launch ten experimental cues for the US space agency NASA in December.
Clients on the newest vehicle from Rocket Lab have included Spire, a company that uses satellites to track ships, aircraft, and orbiting time; Fleet Space Systems, which hopes to provide communication for the internet application thing; and student satellites from the University of Irvine. Other users of the Rocket Lab include brokers Brod Spaceflight, Kleos Space and Circle Aerospace.