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Rocket Lab's Second "Electron" Rocket Launch Succeeds, Reaches Orbit

Accepted submission by takyon at 2018-01-21 04:10:58
Techonomics

After a failure to reach orbit [soylentnews.org] last year and several delays [soylentnews.org], Rocket Lab [wikipedia.org] has successfully launched [nasaspaceflight.com] an Electron rocket [wikipedia.org] into orbit:

Rocket Lab has returned to action with the second launch of its Electron rocket from the Māhia Peninsula from the North Island of New Zealand's eastern coast. Several attempts to launch at the end of last year were scrubbed before regrouping for a new attempt – which was also scrubbed, due to a wayward boat, a technical issue and then the weather – before finally launching at 01:43 UTC on Sunday and appears to have been a success.

Much like Vector Space [nasaspaceflight.com] – which is currently in small-scale suborbital testing with aims to enter the launch market next year [nasaspaceflight.com] – Rocket Lab caters to much the same market, offering small satellite users a dedicated launch system to eliminate ride-sharing requirements on the larger, more established launchers.

According to the company's website, Rocket Lab lists its launch services with Electron as costing $4.9 million (USD) per flight.

Three cubesats were deployed [spacenews.com].

Rocket Lab has two more upcoming launches planned for Q1 2018, including a lunar lander for Moon Express [wikipedia.org]. The Electron rocket will deliver the Moon Express payload into low-Earth orbit, and it will use its own thrusters to get to the Moon [popularmechanics.com]:

Once in low-Earth orbit, the MX-1E will need to complete a translunar injection (TLI) burn, cruise through space, conduct a breaking burn to enter lunar orbit, and finally complete descent and landing burns—all by itself. It would be an unprecedented accomplishment, a single-stage spacecraft that can make it all the way to the surface of the moon from low-Earth orbit.

How will a cheap disposable rocket fare against reusable rockets?

Also at Wired [wired.com].


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