New Zealand launches into space race with 3D-printed rocket Thursday May 25,2017
Rocket Lab, a Silicon Valley-funded space launch company, on Thursday launched the maiden flight of its battery-powered, 3-D printed rocket from New Zealand’s remote Mahia Peninsula.
“Made it to space. Team delighted,” Rocket Lab said on its official Twitter account.
The successful launch of a low cost, 3D-printed rocket is an important step in the commercial race to bring down financial and logistical barriers to space while also making New Zealand an unlikely space hub.
The Los Angeles and New Zealand-based rocket firm has touted its service as a way for companies to get satellites into orbit regularly.
“Our focus with the Electron has been to develop a reliable launch vehicle that can be manufactured in high volumes – our ultimate goal is to make space accessible by providing an unprecedented frequency of launch opportunities,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and chief executive in a statement.
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
Rocket Lab is one of about 30 companies and agencies worldwide developing small satellite launchers as an alternative to firms jostling for space on larger launches or paying around $50 million for a dedicated service. The company said in a statement it has now received $148 million in funding and is valued in excess of $1 billion.
Rocket Lab’s customers include NASA, earth-imaging firm Planet and startups Spire and Moon Express.