Rocket Lab sets NZ launch date

Auckland City Harbour News - - WHAT’S ON - ANUJA NADKARNI

Rocket Lab is plan­ning the first test-launch of its Elec­tron rocket on May 22 from its Mahia Penin­sula launch pad in Hawkes Bay, weather per­mit­ting.

The launch will be a world­first at­tempt to send a rocket into or­bit from a pri­vate launch pad.

Rocket Lab chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Beck said the at­tempt would col­lect data for fu­ture test and com­mer­cial launches.

‘‘Our num­ber one pri­or­ity is to gather enough data and ex­pe­ri­ence to pre­pare for a com­mer­cial phase. Only then can we can start de­liv­er­ing on our mission to make space more ac­ces­si­ble,’’ Beck said.

The test launch is the first of three planned ahead of the first com­mer­cial launch.

Elec­tron, de­vel­oped by the Amer­i­can-New Zealand aero­space com­pany, is made of car­bon-com­pos­ite that uses a 3D printed en­gine for its main propul­sion sys­tem.

It has been de­signed to carry pay­loads, such as small satel­lites, to a low or­bit.

It will al­low con­stel­la­tions of small satel­lites to pro­vide ser­vices like cheaper af­ford­able in­ter­net from space and en­vi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tor­ing, nat­u­ral dis­as­ter prediction and search and rescue ser­vices.

If the launch is a suc­cess the rocket ve­hi­cle will reach an el­lip­ti­cal or­bit, vary­ing be­tween 300 kilo­me­tres and 500km above earth at an 83 de­gree in­cli­na­tion.

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