Rocket Lab’s Electron booster will soon take to the air.
Credit: Rocket Lab

The first orbital launch attempt from New Zealand is near at hand.

Rocket Lab has transported its Electron booster to a launch site in the Mahia Peninsula from the company’s Auckland facility.

Launch site in the Mahia Peninsula.
Credit: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab’s mission is to make space accessible by offering small satellite customers a rapid-response orbital service that is frequent, reliable and affordable.

The Electron booster is now undergoing pre-flight testing. A trio of test flights is on tap prior to offering the launcher to customers.

Google Lunar X Prize competitor, Moon Express, is contracted with Rocket Lab USA. Their lunar mission is scheduled to take place in 2017 using the MX-1E lunar lander on Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket.

Rocket Lab’s New Zealand launch site.
Credit: Rocket Lab

High flight rate

According to a payload user’s guide provided to Inside Outer Space, the Electron is a two-stage vehicle intended to serve the emerging small satellite market and has been “designed with a high flight rate in mind.”

Electron is optimized, according to the company, for quickly launching constellations of small satellites.

The booster is configured to hurl 150 kg (330lbs) to a nominal 500 km sun-synchronous orbit from the private company’s Rocket Lab Launch Complex in New Zealand as well as from U.S. domestic range.

The standard launch of Electron starts at $4.9 million (2016) per launch. The vehicle is marketed as providing at least 100 flights per year.

New Zealand Space Agency

The Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 was officially opened in late September of 2016.

Mason Bay dunes.
Credit: New Zealand Space Agency

The New Zealand Government has announced the development of a new regulatory regime for space and high altitude activities. A New Zealand Space Agency was formed in 2016 within the country’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and is encouraging New Zealand’s participation in the global space economy.

As noted by the MBIE, a key player is Rocket Lab, cited as a commercial space launch operator using innovative and disruptive technology developed in New Zealand and employing highly skilled people in New Zealand.

For a look at Rocket Lab’s preparations, go to this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFnTpURe7UI

Also, go to the Rocket Lab website at:

https://www.rocketlabusa.com/

For Rocket Lab’s Frequently Asked Questions, go to:

http://www.rocketlabusa.com/frequently-asked-questions/

 

 

 

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