"Its Business Time" for Rocket Lab's first commercial flight

"Its Business Time" for Rocket Lab's first commercial flight

"You know, going to orbit once it's great, but doing it again and twice in one year and then moving into a launch cadence at the rate that we are is really transformational for the whole space industry".

Following the launch, Founder and CEO Peter Beck tweeted, "Perfect flight".

Rocket Lab's New Zealand launch pad is located on the tip of the Mahia Peninsula, between Napier and Gisborne.

The payloads for the launch today were: two satellites for Australian IoT company Fleet Space; two Spire Global Lemur-2 satellites; the Irvine CubeSat STEM Program (ICSP) IRVINE01 educational CubeSat; NABEO, a drag sail technology demonstrator designed and built by High Performance Space Structure Systems GmBH; and the Cicero-10 GeoOptics Inc. satellite, built by Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems.

Rocket Lab's "It's Business Time" launch of an Electron Rocket Sunday.

Private space company Rocket Lab has been working to launch its small rocket, with a likely launch date of November 2018.

The Electron rocket also carried a so-called "drag sail" technology demonstration, which is created to pull old, inactive satellites down into Earth's atmosphere where they burn up and reduce the amount of space junk in orbit.

The Electron rocket is 1.2 metres in diameter and 17 metres in height.

Rocket Lab, which is headquartered in California but has a strong New Zealand presence, is pushing out on the frontier of space technology by using carbon-composite materials for its rocket casings, and by taking advantage of 3-D printing to manufacture its electric-pump-fed Rutherford rocket engines. The Electron vehicle has a payload capacity of 150kg to 225kg to a 500km Sun-synchronous orbit and costs about $6 million per launch.

JAXA successfully launched its ultra-small SS-520 in February 2018, making it one of the first to make headway in launching a tiny rocket. Rocket Lab's business time had been postponed twice over the past eight months, due to concerns about a motor controller for the first-stage Rutherford engines. While the Electron rocket is designed for lower cost access to space, its smaller size does mean that the payload size is limited.

Now the company intends to attempt a final commercial launch this year, before setting an ambitious goal of 16 launches for the year 2019.