Rocket Lab's Electron rocket reaches orbit and deploys satellites


This weekend, U.S. spaceflight startup Rocket Lab successfully launched its second Electron rocket for a crucial flight test - and reached orbit for the first time.

Rocket Lab's nine-day launch window opened on Saturday, with more than 50 people eagerly awaiting blast-off at the unofficial viewing site off Blucks Pit Rd, Nuhaka, only to be disappointed by a "rogue" boat.

The company hopes to begin commercial launches next year and eventually launch one rocket every week. Called "Still Testing", the flight was originally planned for December, when Rocket Lab had a 10-day launch window. When the web-cast shutdown, Electron Still Testing made orbit. But there has been a great demand for small rockets that can carry tiny satellites. The launch of Rocket Lab's Electron Rocket will go down as the first successful commercial space launch in the southern hemisphere. Compared to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, a neck-straining 180-feet tall, the Electron is very small. Its Rutherford rocket engines are created by a 3D printing process.

California-based company Rocket Lab said its Electron rocket, which carries only a small payload of about 150 kilograms (331 pounds), successfully deployed an earth imaging and two other satellites for weather and ship tracking after blastoff from the Mahia Peninsula on North Island's east coast.

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A Rocket Lab Electron booster launches on the company's second test flight, called "Still Testing", from the company's Māhia Peninsula launch site in New Zealand on January 21, 2018 local time.

And that means Rocket Lab can finally start launching the payloads of its long customer lineup, which includes NASA, Spaceflight, and more. "We're thrilled to reach this milestone so quickly after our first test launch".

Shortly after, it suspended launch attempts until early 2018.