Rocket Lab sets launchdate
Rocket Lab is planning the first testlaunch of its Electron rocket on May 22 from its Mahia Peninsula launch pad in Hawkes Bay.
The launch will be a world-first attempt to send a rocket into orbit from a private launch pad.
Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck said the attempt would aim to 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 AmericanNew Zealand aerospace company, is an entirely 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.
The rocket will allow constellations of small satellites to provide services like cheaper internet from space and environmental monitoring, natural disaster prediction and search and rescue services.
The test launch attempt would will proceed if conditions are ideal for launch, Becket said.
If the launch is a success the rocket will reach an elliptical orbit, varying between 300 kilometres and 500km above earth.
As part of the launch attempt, Mahia East Coast Road will be closed to the general public from 9am to 8pm on May 22.
State-owned Airways signed an agreement last year to provide air traffic services for Rocket Lab’s test and commercial rocket launches.
The two organisations had worked together for 18 months to develop a ‘‘special use airspace’’ which minimised impact on others, but still allowed Rocket Labs what it wanted to do.
Rocket Lab planned to do up to 100 launches into space a year.
Rocket Lab’s major investors include Khosla Ventures, Sir Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 investment fund, Bessemer Venture Partners and Lockheed Martin, which designs and manufactures missiles and fighter jets for the US military.
Its customers include NASA, Spire, Moon Express and Planet.
Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck says the company plans three test launches its Electron rocket before carrying its first commercial load into space.