(DW)– Rocket Lab successfully put three small satellites into low orbit on its second rocket launch. The company is looking to capitalize on what it sees as a burgeoning market for commercial satellites.
Rocket Lab, a California-based rocket company, has successfully put three small satellites into orbit via a rocket launched from New Zealand on Sunday.
The 55-foot-long (17-meter) rocket carried a 330 pound (150 kilogram) payload consisting of an earth imaging satellite, as well as satellites for weather and ship tracking — it was launched from the Mahia Peninsula on New Zealand’s North Island.
“Electron is orbital. Successful payload deployment,” the company tweeted.
Today marks the beginning of a new era in commercial access to space. Thank you to @planetlabs and @SpireGlobal for joining us on this ride. #Electron #StillTesting #PassedTheTest pic.twitter.com/RUMx31MzN8
— Rocket Lab (@RocketLab) January 21, 2018
“Speechless. Just like that, @rocketlab reaches orbit and sets a new bar for launch by reaching orbit on just their 2nd test,” satellite-powered data company Spire tweeted.
Rocket Lab CEO and founder Peter Beck, a New Zealander, said the successful launch marks the beginning of a new era in commercial access to space.
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Deploying customer payloads on a second test flight “is almost unprecedented,” he said.
Thanks to Peter Beck and his team @rocketlab for @spireglobal and @planetlabs be a part of the #StillTesting historic launch. So thrilled to be able to say “thanks for the ride” to a such a great group of people. pic.twitter.com/gOuJ0hxzGo
— Spire (@SpireGlobal) January 21, 2018
The company reached space with its first test launch last May but aborted the mission due to a communication hitch.
It now has official approval to conduct three more test launches and hopes to capitalize on an emerging market in delivering small devices — no bigger than a smartphone, into orbit.
Such satellites have a variety of uses — everything from monitoring crops to providing internet service.Rocket Lab is backed by a host of US companies including Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Lockheed Martin, Promus Ventures and Data Collective.
The company aims to provide “frequent launch opportunities for low Earth orbit” with a variety of rocket systems “for fast and affordable payload deployment.”
“This success should instill confidence in Rocket Lab’s customers, starting a busy 2018 launch schedule,” said Kris Walsh, a former director of NASA launch programs for Boeing.
Rocket Lab said it expects launch services to cost $4.9 million (4 million euros) per flight.