Rocket Lab aims to lower cost access to space

Rocket Lab aims to lower cost access to space

Kiwi founder announces program to build a light-weight cost effective rocket to make it easier for companies to launch small satellites into orbit.

Rocket Lab, founded by New Zealander Peter Beck, is building a world-first carbon-composite launch vehicle, named Electron, at its Auckland facility to reduce the price of delivering a satellite into orbit.

Costing less than US$5 million, this represents a drastic cost reduction compared to existing dedicated launch services, Rocket Lab says in a statement.

The lead-time for businesses to launch a satellite will also be reduced from years to weeks through vertical integration with Rocket Lab’s private launch facility, it states.

Rocket Lab says it has attracted strong commercial demand for its service with commitments for its first 30 launches. Rocket Lab is an American company with a subsidiary and head office in Auckland.

Electron is 18m in length, 1m diameter and will weigh more than 10 tonnes. This will be the first vehicle of its class capable of delivering payloads up to 100 kg into low Earth orbits.

This technology will really open space for business.

Peter Beck, Rocket Lab

Beck, who founded the company in 2007, says rockets have remained prohibitively large and expensive, even as the trend is for satellites to become smaller, more capable and affordable. The deficit in launch systems creates a severe barrier for commercial ventures and for the emerging satellite constellation markets.

“The innovation behind Electron will release the limitations on launching small satellites. Our vision at Rocket Lab is to make space commercially viable and more accessible than ever before, doing what the Ford Model T did for consumer automobiles. This technology will really open space for business.

“Along with benefits for commercial enterprises, cheaper and faster space access has the potential to lead to more accurate weather prediction, global high speed Internet access, as well as real-time monitoring of the impacts of human development,” says Beck.

“This will bring an innovative and exciting new industry to New Zealand with economic benefits at both a regional and national level. We’re currently considering a shortlist of regions as potential locations for a space port and encourage any region interested to get in touch with us now,” says Beck.

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