Sci-tech

Next generation rocket company reaches orbit in milestone test

Next generation rocket company reaches orbit in milestone test”

The rocket builder's Electron vehicle reached orbit for the first time, deploying a payload of micro-satellites after launching from the company's complex on New Zealand's Mahia Peninsula. The satellites were an Earth observation satellite from a company called Planet and two other satellites from a company called Spire.

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

The company had conducted several launch attempts in December which failed to take off. The successful launch has huge implications for the#Small Satellite market and for one company's dream for landing on the moon. The launch of Rocket Lab's Electron Rocket will go down as the first successful commercial space launch in the southern hemisphere.

Modern satellite design has allowed for the construction of tiny and lightweight satellites that can do the work that more massive ones had done previously. That's why the company's Electron rocket isn't very big itself. The Electron is entirely made of carbon composite materials. The launch vehicle was carrying three small commercial satellites, including one for weather monitoring and another for earth imaging, according to the Associated Press. 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.

This was the first time that a rocket with 3D-printed engines has been successfully launched from New Zealand. Current rules for the prize stipulate that the victor must land on the moon and perform specific tasks by the end of March.

Richard Easther, a professor of physics at the University of Auckland, told Stuff.co.nz that Sunday was a "red-letter day for New Zealand," thanks to the Electron's orbital success.

Shortly after, it suspended launch attempts until early 2018. Participants have to complete their lunar excursions before March 31st, 2018 in order to win the grand prize money.



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