The first flight of the Rocket, the Lab miniature satellite launcher was not perfect, but it is definitely enough to continue with the plans for a second test launch this summer, founder and CEO Peter Beck said today (25 May).
Speaking to reporters less than 12 hours after the first Electron rocket bolted off the coast launchpad in New Zealand, Beck said the booster’s first and second stages separated as planned, but the upper stage, which doubled as a test payload, not to achieve the desired orbit about 310 miles (500 kilometres) above the Earth.
A preliminary analysis shows that the upper stage ended up at approximately half that height, Beck said. [ Note: Rocket Lab Electron Arrives at launch site ]
“This is why we have testing. It’s all about collecting the data, to find out what works and what doesn’t,” he said.
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View: Rocket Lab Electron Arrives at launch site
Thursday is the flight from the tip of New Zealand’s mahia Peninsula more than enough information to proceed with a second test launch sometime this summer, Beck added.
“We have more than 20,000 channels of data to go through … We will learn what we need to learn and continue with the following,” Beck said.
Rocket Lab plans to launch three test flights before it begins commercial launch of services later this year.
Electron start today at 4:20 a.m. local time (12:20 pm EDT/0420 GMT), also marked in New Zealand for a ticket to the exclusive group of countries that the launch of a spacecraft in orbit. In addition to the United States and Russia, that their first satellites in orbit around 60 years ago, the other countries with orbital launch capabilities are France, Japan, China, India, Israel, Iran, and North Korea.
“If anyone ever is considering the construction of launch range, I would recommend against,” Beck joked. “It is certainly much more involved than even we, four years ago, thought [it] would be.”
Rocket Lab decided to build a private spaceport so that he can fly, and as often as he wants, without having to share range and resources with other users.
Ultimately, Rocket Lab is intended for the weekly flights of Electron, a two-stage, carbon-composite rocket designed for loads of up to approximately 330 kg. (150 pounds) in orbit some 310 miles above the Earth.
The booster is powered by 3D-printed Rutherford engines that burn a mixture of liquid oxygen and kerosene.
Rocket Lab’s customers include NASA and the private companies Planet, the Spire, the Space and Moon Express, the last hope for a ride for the end of the year, so it can compete in the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize.
Irene Klotz can be reached on Twitter at @free_space . Follow us @Spacedotcom , Facebook and Google+ . Original article on Space.com .