Rocket Lab Launches First Electron Rocket

Reached space, but not orbit #ItsATest

Electron Rocket launches from the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand — Rocket Lab

The 17 meter tall Electron Rocket successfully launched to space on a suborbital trajectory early Thursday morning from Rocket Lab’s private launch complex in New Zealand. This achievement marks a number of firsts for the launch provider, culminating to fulfill their mantra that, “Space is now open for business.”

Rutherford

Rocket Lab

The Rutherford rocket engine features a new electric pump fed propulsion cycle which produces a specific impulse of 303 s in Earth’s atmosphere and 333 s in vacuum. Nine Rutherfords in concert provide 162 kN of thrust to propel the 23,000 pound Electron rocket to space.

Electron

Rocket Lab

Thursday was the first flight for the Electron launch vehicle, and in a statement from Rocket Lab’s CEO, Peter Beck, confirmed that “It was a great flight. We had a great first stage burn, stage separation, second stage ignition and fairing separation.” All fantastic achievements for the vehicle’s first test flight, but the test payload failed to reach orbital velocity. Beck explains, “We didn’t quite reach orbit and we’ll be investigating why, however reaching space in our first test puts us in an incredibly strong position to accelerate the commercial phase of our program, deliver our customers to orbit and make space open for business.”

Congratulations to Rocket Lab for achieving a successful first flight of the Electron Rocket!

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