Rocket Lab Launches 2nd Test Flight of Electron Small-Satellite Booster

Before it can do that, however, Rocket Lab needs to complete its vehicle testing program, which could continue with a launch as early as Friday night.

If Sunday's launch is successful, it will be the first time a satellite is launched into orbit from New Zealand.

This is Rocket Lab's second attempt at this mission.

"There's much more to this mission than meets the eye and we'll make an announcement about that in the next couple of days".

Rocket Lab's big ambition is to be a dedicated launcher of small satellites. Pacific time from Rocket Lab's private launch complex on New Zealand's Mahia Peninsula. "Today we took a significant step towards that".

"After 30 years in the launch industry with hundreds of launches, each one is still a thrill". The rocket carried three commercial satellites on this trip: a Dove Earth-imaging satellite for Planet and two Lemur satellites for Spire that track ships and weather. Rocket Lab's Electron is in response to this growing market.

Before customers can start flying, Rocket Lab needed to show that the Electron could do its job, and getting to orbit was a key goal of this test.

Following successful first and second stage burns, Electron reached orbit and deployed customer payloads at 8 minutes and 31 seconds after lift-off. Rocket Lab said that if the mishap hadn't occurred, the Electron would have made it to orbit.

"Electron is orbital. Successful payload deployment", the company tweeted. The successful launch has vast implications for the#Small Satellite market and for one company's dream for landing on the moon. Moon Express is also competing as part of the Google Lunar X Prize competition - a contest to send the first privately funded lander to the Moon's surface - and the deadline to win is coming up. Its goals go beyond winning a prize competition.

Rocket Lab now has five Electron vehicles in production, with the next launch expected to take place in early 2018. Its smaller size is meant to increase affordability and launch flexibility for customers with smaller payloads.

A Rocket Lab Electron booster launches on the company's second test flight, called "Still Testing", from the company's Māhia Peninsula launch site in New Zealand on January 21, 2018 local time.

  • Valerie Cook