Rocket Lab’s “Still Testing” booster departs New Zealand pad, heading to Earth orbit.
Credit: Rocket Lab

 

 

Upstart booster provider, Rocket Lab, successfully reached orbit with the test flight of its second Electron orbital launch vehicle, “Still Testing.”

Electron lifted-off January 21 from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Māhia Peninsula in New Zealand.

In-flight photo from Electron booster showing New Zealand launch area.
Credit: Rocket Lab

 

Customer payloads

Still Testing was carrying a Dove Pioneer Earth-imaging satellite for launch customer Planet, as well as two Lemur-2 satellites for weather and ship tracking company Spire.

Rocket Lab’s commercial phase will see Electron fly already-signed customers including NASA, Spire, Planet, Moon Express and Spaceflight.

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

Opening access to space

Roaring skyward from its New Zealand pad, and after first and second stage burns, Electron reached orbit and deployed customer payloads at 8 minutes and 31 seconds after lift-off.

Launch site in the Mahia Peninsula.
Credit: Rocket Lab

“Reaching orbit on a second test flight is significant on its own, but successfully deploying customer payloads so early in a new rocket program is almost unprecedented,” says Rocket Lab CEO and founder Peter Beck.

“Rocket Lab was founded on the principal of opening access to space to better understand our planet and improve life on it. Today we took a significant step towards that,” Beck adds in a Rocket Lab press statement.

Go to this video to see launch, staging events, mission control:

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