Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Electron rocket launches in New Zealand

I've been paying nearly all my attention in commercial space to Elon Musk's SpaceX, including last month's serious SpaceX launches and recovers a reused rocket and silly SpaceX launch you up.  Musk has competitors and one of them registered a success last week, as CNBC reported in RocketLab Succeeded In Its Orbital Rocket Launch.

A Silicon Valley-founded venture has successfully launched a 3D-printed rocket into space.
That's good news.  TomoNewsUS has more on Electron and other recent space developments in Rocket Lab Electron launch: New Zealand joins space race with 3D-printed rocket

The Rocket Lab Electron is made of carbon composite material, and its rocket boosters use 3D-printed Rutherford engines, according to the Rocket Lab website.

The rocket’s first stage has a cluster of nine electric engines that burn liquid oxygen and refined kerosene. The second stage has a single vacuum-optimized engine that can carry payloads weighing up to 225 kilograms.

The Electron rocket will deliver small satellites into space. They will be used for mapping, to predict the weather, provide high-speed internet, and analyse the environment.

Rocket Lab plans to complete three test launches before the Electron is available commercially. The company plans to eventually build and launch one rocket per week, with flights costing around US$5 million.
Looks like NASA's SLS will be in a race with SpaceX taking tourists around Earth's moon, even if neither side acknowledges it.  If so, that should make both missions even more interesting.

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