Aerospace newbie, Rocket Lab is about to take its first vehicle to space. The California-based firm is planning to pull off the inaugural flight of its electron space rocket, which is a new mode of launch vehicle that is capable of taking small satellites into space.
The test vehicle, which is cutely named ‘it’s a test’, is going to take off from the private launch facility of the company on the Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand later this month. The launch window is going to open on 21st of this month. If the rocket test launches off the ground is successful this time, then it is would be the first of three before the firm does gives the okay for the Electron.
Rocket Lab, Leading Launch Provider for Small Satellites
Rocket lab itself is a small private firm which is endeavoring to become one of the leading launch providers for the small satellites is debuting the first test vehicle at its private launch facility in the course of the month. The small satellite industry seems to be blooming on a global scale. It is partially due to the increasing capabilities of small electronics which means the small satellites can sometimes be no larger than a lunch box but still be used to do weather tracking, micro gravity research and earth imaging.
These fliers are able to go to space only by piggybacking on the bigger payloads so to speak. Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket smaller size is indicative that small satellites take a higher priority. Thus, firms which are looking to put a few small satellites into certain orbits are able to buy a trip on Electron as opposed to waiting around to hitch a ride on a larger rocket which is sending payloads into a similar type of orbit. Considering the firm has its own facility to launch from, it also has more control for the time and cadence of the launches.
The rocket has a maximum carrying capacity of around 500 pounds. The rocket is not designed to launch what other vehicles like the Falcon or the Atlas V which stand 155 feet taller than the Electron rocket. There are other firms which are working towards constructing rockets in the same weight class. NASA has bought small satellite launches from three of the firms including Rocket Lab.
Profiting from the Price Point
The goal of Rocket Lab is to profit from the small satellite up rise. Usually, robust communications satellites are commonly about the size of a small bus or a car. However, as technology advances, individuals are always figuring out means to make satellites which are more capable at smaller size types. By offering a price of getting cargo into space of $4.9 million per flight, rocket labs sounds like a good deal for small satellite operators that do not want to pay to hitch a ride on the larger rocket launch pads which may charge as much as $62 million.
Obviously, the firm has some way to go before it can fulfill obligations to clientele starting with the test launches this month. The firm claims it is only going to launch during the window if the situation is just right for flight and its launches may be delayed while it makes small modifications to equipment.