Rocket Lab Launches 2nd Test Flight of Electron Small-Satellite Booster

At 2:43 p.m. local time (1:43 GMT), the composite-bodied, two-stage rocket named "Still Testing" lifted off from Rocket Lab's Launch Complex 1 located on the tip of the Māhia Peninsula on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, carrying a payload of mini-satellites, which it successfully delivered into low Earth orbit.

Although New Zealand-founded, Rocket Lab lists itself as an American company with headquarters at a wholly-owned New Zealand subsidiary. It marks the first time the Electron has completed a full mission, and that may mean Rocket Lab is ready to start commercial flights of the vehicle.

"Still Testing" was originally slated to blast off during a launch window in November of previous year, but the launch was delayed after a power fault in the ground systems triggered an automatic abort just seconds before liftoff.

"This success should instill confidence in Rocket Lab's customers, starting a busy 2018 launch schedule". When the web-cast shutdown, Electron Still Testing made orbit. The rocket carried three commercial satellites on this trip: a Dove Earth-imaging satellite for Planet and two Lemur satellites for Spire that track ships and weather. The successful launch has enormous implications for the#Small Satellite market and for one company's dream for landing on the moon.

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"Electron is orbital. Successful payload deployment", the company tweeted.

"Very nice launch. My heartiest congratulations to the Rocket Labs team". It aims to develop a low-priced transportation system to allow customers to send payloads, first to the moon, and then to destinations throughout the solar system at an affordable price.

Neither Rocket Lab nor Moon Express has given a date for a launch attempt.

Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck said reaching orbit on a test flight was significant but successfully deploying a customer payload so early in a new rocket programme was nearly "unprecedented". "We're thrilled to reach this milestone so quickly after our first test launch".

  • Regina Walsh