New Zealand launches first ever Electron satellite into orbit

The successful launch of Rocket Lab's second Electron rocket into orbit from Mahia yesterday afternoon is a great achievement for the New Zealand-founded company and the key to it ramping up a hugely significant and world-leading business operation.

Spire Global, a satellite-powered data company, noted the launch was a "huge win for Rocket Lab and sets a new bar for launch by reaching orbit on just their second test".

The company last May reached space with its first test launch, only to abort the mission due to a communication glitch.

He said that deploying customer payloads on a second test flight "is nearly unprecedented".

Rocket Lab's chief executive Peter Beck said today's launch ushers in a new era of access to space. "Today we took a significant step towards that".

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Rocket Lab now has five Electron vehicles in production, with the next launch expected to take place in early 2018.

Beck added: "Today marks the beginning of a new era in commercial access to space".

"This is the first test carrying customer payloads and we'll be monitoring everything closely as we attempt to reach orbit", Beck said. As launches increase, Beck says that talks are ongoing with several spaceports and launch locations around the United States for future Rocket Lab flights.

Rocket Lab said it would be launching every week at a relatively cheap $US4.9 million a pop.

New Zealand joins not only superpowers like Russian Federation and the United States in putting a satellite into orbit, but also Iran, Israel and North Korea. The biggest issue that turned up was finding a suitable launch site.

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The company has been inundated with messages from around the world after successfully launching its Electron rocket into orbit.

"Our incredibly dedicated and talented team have worked tirelessly to develop, build and launch Electron".

Beck says the company will continue to base launches out of New Zealand, saying "right now we have all the capacity we need".

"The engines ignited but a couple engines didn't like the temperature of the liquid oxygen, so it automatically shut down", Beck said.

The rocket is 17 meters long, which is around a quarter the size of the Falcon 9 rocket from Elon Musk's rival company SpaceX.

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"The only other option a customer has if they have a small satellite is to piggy-back on a large rocket - the problem with (this).is you don't get to go when you want to go or where you want to go". Operators of tiny satellites don't have many options to get to space, and typically have to hitch rides on launches of much bigger probes.


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