Adrian Harvey writes:
The New Zealand based commercial space company Rocket Lab has unveiled their new rocket engine which the media is describing as battery-powered. It still uses fuel, of course, but has an entirely new propulsion cycle which uses electric motors to drive its turbopumps.
To add to the interest over the design, it uses 3D printing for all its primary components. First launch is expected this year, with commercial operations commencing in 2016.
Perhaps this is just a step before they do something additional that will gain some very useful advantage?
Like what? Once SpaceX perfects reusable launches (some time away, but lift rockets are not developed for a two to three year operational life span), expendable rockets will become utterly uncompetitive.
ULA also announced a new rocket that will attempt to reuse the first stage engines (but not land the entire first stage booster).