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18 Mar 2018 5:25
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  •   Home > News > Technology

    Rocket Lab to rival US launches: Beck

    Following Sunday's successful lift-off, Rocket Lab hopes to send more rockets into space next year than will be launched from the United States.

    Rocket Lab boss Peter Beck is aiming to send more rockets into space next year than the United States.

    The New Zealand-based company made its second successful launch - and its first to reach orbit - from New Zealand's Mahia Peninsula on Sunday

    The launch carried small satellites into the Earth's orbit for US companies Planet Labs and Spire Global.

    With both companies now communicating with the satellites, Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck on Monday declared the company would not need to conduct anymore tests.

    "We've got five (launch) vehicles sitting in the factory and we'll just be focusing on fully commercial operations and trying to build to a launch cadence of one a month," he told TVNZ.

    "Next year, we'll go to one every two weeks and, at that point, Rocket Lab as a company will be launching more than America as a country."

    The launch has received praise from experts right around the world.

    Kris Walsh, former project manager at United Launch Alliance and former director of all NASA launch programmes for Boeing, says it was wonderful to see such a smooth countdown.

    "This success should instil confidence in Rocket Lab's customers, starting a busy 2018 launch schedule. The industry will be watching Rocket Lab's ability to meet schedule, but this is a milestone."

    University of Auckland Professor of Physics Richard Easther also praised the launch as a "huge milestone" for the company.

    "This is a red-letter day for New Zealand; to put this in perspective, we are now one of just a dozen countries to have successfully built and deployed an rocket that can put satellites into orbit," he said.

    "The other countries in the club are either all world powers like the USA, Russia, China and India or smaller countries which are armed to the teeth -- Israel, Iran and North Korea.

    "So New Zealand really stands alone with a technically advanced, commercially focused launch vehicle. And what we have seen today is really just the first chapter is what promises to be a fascinating story for the country and our technology and science sectors."

    New Zealand's Minister for Economic Development David Parker says the country has the natural advantage of clear skies and seas, and relatively low levels of air traffic.

    "Ten years ago, under the last Labour government, Rocket Lab received its first research and development grant - they are a great example of what can be achieved," he said.

    The company's inaugural test last May reached space but didn't make it into orbit after a communication fault forced the flight to be aborted early.

    © 2018 NZN, NZCity

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