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SMC Alert: Rocket Lab successful launch
22 January 2018, 02:14 | Shelley Chandler
Rutherford Engine – via Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab, a spaceflight company with assets in the United States and New Zealand, is gearing up for the second launch of its Electron rocket. The rocket had the additional task of putting three nanosatellites in orbit: an Earth-imaging Dove satellite for Planet, and two Lemur-2 satellites that the Spire space venture would use for tracking ships and monitoring weather.
The launch occurred at 5:44 p.m.
Shortly afterwards, Rocket Lab announced it would be suspending launch attempts until early 2018. The nine-day launch window opened Friday at 5:30 p.m.
This mission was nicknamed "Still Testing", but unlike the first mission, the objective was not merely to test Rocket Lab's hardware. The company was initially set to launch the satellites in mid-December, but delayed the launch after finding a "power fault" during ground checkouts.
The launch of the rocket - named Still Testing - follows the company's first launch last May, in which the rocket got to space but did not make it to orbit after range safety officials had to kill the flight.
The Electron rocket, built with 3D-printed engines and a mostly composite construction, is designed for rapid manufacture and a high launch rate. The company is also slated to launch a lunar lander for the company Moon Express, which hopes to mine the Moon for resources someday.
At full production, Rocket Lab expects to launch more than 50 times a year, and is regulated to launch up to 120 times a year, more than any other commercial or government launch provider in history. Participants have to complete their lunar excursions before March 31st, 2018 in order to win the grand prize money.
"Today we debuted and successfully put in orbit the very first small launch vehicle that the industry has ever seen, we've ushered in a new era for access to space", Rocket Lab's chief executive Peter Beck said, cited by the media outlet.
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