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Rocket Lab is a private space company out of New Zealand founded by rocket engineer Peter Beck. Their goal is to open up space and satellite technology for business by building cheap, disposable rockets that are powerful and flexible.
Their Electron rocket is tiny – less than 1/3 the size of the Falcon 9 – but can launch 62% of payloads into space for only $5 million.
To do this, they have pioneered new technologies like the 3D printed Rutherford engine (named after Ernest Rutherford) that is powered by a battery pack, and completely carbon-fiber construction.
The Electron rocket is perfect for micro satellites and cube satellites, with a payload capacity of up to 225 kilograms.
Their first launch of the Electron was called It’s a Test, which achieved orbit, but had communication issues and had to be destroyed.
Their second launch was called Still Testing, which was a complete success, launching two commercial payloads and the Humanity Star satellite.
They also have built their own launch facility on the Mahia peninsula in New Zealand, which is the first privately owned launch facility in the world and the first in the southern hemisphere.
Their first commercial flight, called It’s Business Time is scheduled to launch in late Spring/early Summer 2018.