"It's the first visible sign of a space industry in New Zealand and is an achievement Rocket Lab, and all New Zealanders can be proud of". On the second launch, the company will focus on getting its payload to orbit as well as increasing the payload size.
The launch, carried out at a objective built site on the Mahia Peninsula on New Zealand's North Island, also makes NZ only the 11th country to successfully launch a rocket into space.
"Made it to space", Rocket Lab's official Twitter account posted, which was at the time the only indication the launch had taken place as there was no live stream available. "Team delighted. More to follow!"
The Electron is made entirely of carbon-composite material and is created to carry payloads of 225kg to an elliptical orbit and up to 150kg to a nominal 500km sun synchronous low earth orbit. The company hopes to begin commercial launches later this year and eventually launch about one rocket every week.
A view of the second stage engine shortly after the first stage separated.
A view of the Electron rocket in the hangar.
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Although the 15m rocket, Electron, did reach space, it did not quite make it into orbit. Rocket Lab, as expected, was able to achieve a attractive lift-off, followed by the first stage burn, stage separation, second stage ignition and fairing separation. Its outer shell is made nearly entirely of carbon fiber, and it boasts an electric turbopump and a 3-D printed engine. New Zealand's weather is notoriously changeable, and on Wednesday, the rocket was about to lift off when some disagreeable weather swept in at T-12 minutes, halting the mission.
The ground was broken on this geographic location in December 2015 and was officially opened September 26, 2016. "That includes all launch service providers combined".
Rocket was launched punctually at 04:20 UTC (16:20 local time) after erection from horizontal position.
This was the Electron's first launch attempt and the window for the same opened back on May 21. Nine Rutherford engines burning RP-1/LOX and providing 22.3 kN each were ignited and rocket started its flight towards south over Pacific Ocean.
The firm had spent the past four years preparing for the test launch and last week received the go-ahead from the US Federal Aviation Administration, which is monitoring the flight.
Beck told GeekWire that he expected the flight program to proceed quickly enough to send Moon Express' lander on the first leg of its trip to the moon by the end of this year. In a statement, the company said that it has now received US$148 million in funding and is valued in excess of US$1 billion.