Test rocket launched into space from New Zealand pad

Test rocket launched into space from New Zealand pad

The company tweeted Thursday afternoon: "Made it to space". For context, there were 82 rocket launches globally in 2016.

Last week, Rocket Lab said it had secured a new customer called Spaceflight, a launch services and mission management provider.

The high-performance electric propellant pump, along with its Rutherford engine design, is meant to open a new pathway to access the widest range of orbital azimuths.

The Electron rocket transmitted onboard video from a rear facing camera.

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Billed as "the first orbital-class rocket launched from a private launch site in the world", Electron is created to launch small satellites of less than 150 kg (330 lb) to reach sun-synchronous orbit at a cost of about US$4.9 million.

However, Rocket Lab has two more tests planned for 2017 to sort the issue out before it starts commercial flights.

"We are all incredibly excited to get to this point", he said. US-based Vector Space is also entering the test phase of its own effort to field a small satellite-hauling rocket, launching a reduced-size prototype with a full-size engine in the Mojave desert in early May.

'Made it to space.

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The launch took place at 16:23 NZST (9:23 PM PT) on Thursday, using one of Rocket Lab's Electron rockets which took off from Rocket Lab Complex 1 in New Zealand.

Rocket Lab didn't quite make it to orbit on its first try, but the company's CEO says he's "very happy" with the Electron rocket's performance nevertheless.

The rocket's first stage is composed of nine Rutherford engines, which are powered by liquid oxygen and kerosene. It will eventually be able to carry loads of up to 150kg into orbit.

"It's the end of four years of R&D and testing on the ground". If you don't mind sharing space with other satellites, a small cubesat that can perform basic experiments or take pictures of the Earth can be put into space for just $77,000. The launch was actually supposed to have the rocket reach orbit, but it just missed that goal.

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But where Rocket Lab is looking to find its niche is in small-scale satellite deliveries, offering companies a cheaper conduit to get their devices into orbit. The company hopes to launch more than 50 times a year once it's at full production, partnering with NASA, Moon Express and more. A chief executive of a competitor, Jim Cantrell of Vector Space Systems, recently described the market for smaller launch vehicles as "shooting turkeys in a drum", saying there was incredible demand.

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