Rocket Lab successfully conducts first commercial launch of Electron rocket

After failed attempts six months ago the company is having another go at launching its Electron rocket

US and New Zealand spaceflight company Rocket Lab successfully completed its first commercial launch called "It's Business Time" on Sunday, sending seven payloads to orbit.

Rocket Lab's Electron rocket comes at a price tag that's only a fraction of the $50 million or more it costs to launch a larger rocket.

The Electron arced toward the south from Mahia Peninsula, riding almost 22,680kg of thrust from the Rutherford engines during a two-and-a-half minute first stage burn. The rocket builder reached orbit for the first time in January with its final test launch but saw this commercial attempt delayed due to a "motor control" issue with the rocket.

Now fixed, the Electron will house six satellites and a technology demonstrator which will be sent to low earth orbit and feed data back to earth.

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As CNBC noted, the Electron rocket is created to carry spacecraft up to the size of a refrigerator on a faster timetable than larger competitors like SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets, though it actually costs more than the latter. For It's Business Time, Rocket Lab launched two cubesats for Fleet Space Systems, two Lemur-2 cubesats for Spire Global, and one satellite each for Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems and Irvine Cubesat STEM Program. Saturday marked the first commercial launch for the Electron rocket as it pushed seven spacecraft into orbit.

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck tweeted after launch "Perfect flight" and noted that "Orbital accuracy was exquisite". SpaceFlight Now reported the next launch will be somewhere between december 10 and december 18, 2018, citing sources with payloads on the rocket.

On top of this, the company has a private launch complex stationed on the remote Māhia Peninsula in eastern New Zealand that is licensed to launch up to 120 times per year.

On board were seven space craft equipped with small satellites and one drag sail named NABEO - created to retire inactive satellites to help combat space junk. The company's Electron rocket is created to launch spacecraft up to the size of a refrigerator, especially for the premium small satellite part of the rocket market. The 18 total launches planned so far gives Rocket Lab about $3 billion in revenue in the pipeline. The plan, according to Beck, is to try one launch per month to start in 2019, then to move to one launch every two weeks.

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