Rocket Lab successfully launches in orbit from NZ’s Mahia Peninsula complex

By Addie Thomes

Space exploration startup Rocket Lab has celebrated a successful test launch of its Electron rocket ‘Still Testing’, fired from its base on the Mahia Peninsula in the northern extremities of New Zealand.

This follows a failed test in May of last year, and raises hopes for further tests and deployments of satellites – Still Testing deployed three satellites from this launch, designed to gather data on weather and shipping patterns.

Rocket Lab CEO and founder Peter Beck said: “Today marks the beginning of a new era in commercial access to space. We’re thrilled to reach this milestone so quickly after our first test launch.”

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Rocket Lab currently has five Electron vehicles in production, with the next launch expected to take place in early 2018.  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

Beck added: “Reaching orbit on a second test flight is significant on its own, but successfully deploying customer payloads so early in a new rocket program is almost unprecedented. Rocket Lab was founded on the principal of opening access to space to better understand our planet and improve life on it. Today we took a significant step towards that.”

The three satellites being carried include an earth imaging satellite for Planet, and two Lemur-2 satellites for weather and ship tracking firm Spire.

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