ZaphodHarkonnen
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RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:49 am

This news is a little old now. But the company RocketLab recently had their first launch of their Electron rocket in NZ.

It managed to make it into space but not quite orbit. :( Still a hell of an acheivement for their first flight of a new rocket. With any luck that problem will be fixed shortly and their second launch will be properly orbital. Letting little NZ joing the club of orbital launch facilities. ;)

One of the parts I find really neat is how their resource consent allows them to legally launch up to 120 times a year. Though they're only aiming for 50 times a year to begin with.

Anyways, who knows, maybe in a few decades NZ will contain a whole set of launch facilities into orbit. Taking advantage of the benefits being in the middle of nowhere gives us. *crosses fingers*

https://rocketlabusa.com/latest/rocket- ... o-space-2/

Rocket Lab broke new ground today when its Electron rocket reached space at 16:23 NZST.

Electron lifted-off at 16:20 NZST from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. It was the first orbital-class rocket launched from from a private launch site in the world.

“It has been an incredible day and I’m immensely proud of our talented team,” said Peter Beck, CEO and founder of Rocket Lab. “We’re one of a few companies to ever develop a rocket from scratch and we did it in under four years. We’ve worked tirelessly to get to this point. We’ve developed everything in house, built the world’s first private orbital launch range, and we’ve done it with a small team.

“It was a great flight. We had a great first stage burn, stage separation, second stage ignition and fairing separation. We didn’t quite reach orbit and we’ll be investigating why, however reaching space in our first test puts us in an incredibly strong position to accelerate the commercial phase of our programme, deliver our customers to orbit and make space open for business,” says Beck.

Over the coming weeks, Rocket Lab’s engineers in Los Angeles and Auckland, New Zealand will work through the 25,000 data channels that were collected during. The results will inform measures taken to optimize the vehicle.

“We have learnt so much through this test launch and will learn even more in the weeks to come. We’re committed to making space accessible and this is a phenomenal milestone in that journey. The applications doing this will open up are endless. Known applications include improved weather reporting, Internet from space, natural disaster prediction, up-to-date maritime data as well as search and rescue services,” says Beck.

Today’s launch was the first of three test flights scheduled for this year. Rocket Lab will target getting to orbit on the second test and look to maximize the payload the rocket can carry.

At full production, Rocket Lab expects to launch more than 50 times a year, and is regulated to launch up to 120 times a year. In comparison, there were 22 launches last year from the United States, and 82 internationally.

Rocket Lab’s commercial phase will see Electron fly already-signed customers including NASA, Spire, Planet, Moon Express and Spaceflight.
 
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JetBuddy
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Tue Jun 06, 2017 3:18 pm

Seems like an interesting company, I wish them good luck. With a bunch of already signed customers they should do fine.
 
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Zkpilot
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Wed Jun 07, 2017 4:55 am

Yes well done to them. First effort and getting into space. This makes New Zealand only the 11th country with a proven space launch ability and the smallest nation to do so so far (4.7 million population).

Exciting in that they have the potential to be the most prolific launch platform in the world too (albeit the rockets are small unlike the likes of SpaceX).

Just waiting for Australia to try to claim it somehow... :lol: :duck:
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Aesma
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:34 pm

You often read that the trickiest part of a rocket engine is the turbopump, so I was really surprised to learn they use an electric pump, I had never heard of this tech.
New Technology is the name we give to stuff that doesn't work yet. Douglas Adams
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Wed Jun 07, 2017 2:10 pm

Aesma wrote:
You often read that the trickiest part of a rocket engine is the turbopump, so I was really surprised to learn they use an electric pump, I had never heard of this tech.


They're the first to do it from what I understand. You get a bit of a weight penalty as you have to carry heavy LiPos the whole way up. But the return is in vastly simpler and cheaper fuel and oxidizer pumps as you don't have to worry about the metallurgy to quite the same extent.

It also allows you to say they have battery powered rockets which I love saying to see the WTF? face from people. :p
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:41 pm

A bit of a thread necro but some new info from RocketLab on the launch.

Looks like some people misconfigured some telementary software which is what led to the early shutdown. Nothing wrong with the rocket itself. Here's looking to the next launch of "Still Testing" to get into orbit.

Their press release about it. https://www.rocketlabusa.com/latest/roc ... -analysis/

Rocket Lab has completed an internal review of data from its May 25 test flight of its Electron rocket. The review found the launch had to be terminated due to an independent contractor’s ground equipment issue, rather than an issue with the rocket. Rocket Lab’s investigation board has identified the root causes and corrective actions.

The Federal Aviation Administration, the primary body responsible for licensing the launch, has overseen Rocket Lab’s comprehensive investigation and will review the findings.

Rocket Lab’s engineers have spent the last two months working through an extensive fault tree analysis to ensure all factors that may have influenced the outcome of the launch were thoroughly evaluated. The investigation involved the review of over 25,000 channels of data collected during the flight in addition to extensive testing at Rocket Lab facilities in California and New Zealand.

Rocket Lab’s investigation team determined the launch, named ‘It’s a Test’, was terminated due to a data loss time out, which was caused by misconfiguration of telemetry equipment owned and operated by a third-party contractor who was supporting the launch from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1.

Four minutes into the flight, at an altitude of 224 km, the equipment lost contact with the rocket temporarily and, according to standard operating procedures, range safety officials terminated the flight. Data, including that from Rocket Lab’s own telemetry equipment, confirmed the rocket was following a nominal trajectory and the vehicle was performing as planned at the time of termination.

“We have demonstrated Electron was following its nominal trajectory and was on course to reach orbit,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab CEO. “While it was disappointing to see the flight terminated in essence due to an incorrect tick box. We can say we tested nearly everything, including the flight termination system. We were delighted with the amount of data we were able to collect during an exceptional first test launch.

Rocket Lab’s telemetry systems provided data verifying Electrons capabilities and providing us with high confidence ahead of our second test flight. The call to terminate a launch would be tough for anyone, and we appreciated the professionalism of the flight safety officials involved.”

The telemetry data loss that led to the termination of the flight has been directly linked to a key piece of equipment responsible for translating radio signals into data used by safety officials to track the vehicle performance. It was discovered a contractor failed to enable forward error correction on this third-party device causing extensive corruption of received position data. The failure was first indicated by the fact that Rocket Lab’s own equipment did not suffer similar data loss during launch. Further confirmation of the cause was demonstrated when replaying raw radio-frequency data - recorded on launch day - through correctly configured equipment also resolved the problem.

The fix for the issue is simple and corrective procedures have been put in place to prevent a similar issue in future. No major changes to the Electron launch vehicle hardware have been required and the company has authorized the production of four additional launch vehicles as it prepares for commercial operations ahead of the test flight program. Rocket Lab’s second Electron rocket, named ‘Still Testing’, is undergoing final checks and preparations ahead of being shipped to Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 shortly.
 
Trololzilla
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:04 pm

Wasn't sure if I should start a new thread for this or not, but Rocket Lab is attempting their second test launch today at 20:30 EST December 11 (01:30 UTC and December 12).
 
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Tugger
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:38 pm

Trololzilla wrote:
Wasn't sure if I should start a new thread for this or not, but Rocket Lab is attempting their second test launch today at 20:30 EST December 11 (01:30 UTC and December 12).

I wish them good luck, hope all goes smoothly and they succeed in attaining orbit!

Tugg
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77west
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Tue Dec 12, 2017 4:34 am

Tugger wrote:
Trololzilla wrote:
Wasn't sure if I should start a new thread for this or not, but Rocket Lab is attempting their second test launch today at 20:30 EST December 11 (01:30 UTC and December 12).

I wish them good luck, hope all goes smoothly and they succeed in attaining orbit!

Tugg


They did not.... abort at T-2 seconds, after main engine ignition, most likely due to a sensor fault or other event that caused the onboard computers to cut the engine.

http://twitter.com/RocketLab?ref_src=tw ... r%5Eauthor

Looks as though they may re-try tomorrow.
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77west
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:51 am

http://youtu.be/eg5234BOED8?t=877

IT WORKS, THEY REACHED ORBIT !!
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AirlineCritic
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Sun Jan 21, 2018 8:13 am

Wow, congrats!
 
parapente
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:40 am

Great effort,well done!
I assume this craft ( small sat's) is in competition with these?..
R Branson's use of his 'plane n' rocket'?
That bigger aircraft that the Microsoft guy just built?
The rocket launched from a Triststar?
Others?
One assumes (at least they think) this is a better method.If it is and has the ability to launch the numbers they suggest,it will not bode well for the others one imagines.
Is that fair or total rubbish?
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:34 am

@parapente I'm having trouble understanding what your question is.

RocketLab is the first to orbit of a new group of launchers aimed at the smallsat and cubesat area. RocketLab offers the ability for a smallsat owner to choose when and where their payload goes. While a launch on something like a Falcon 9 would be cheaper you don't get to choose when or where as you are the secondary payload.

RocketLab appears to be the frontrunner of this class of launcher as they are now the first to orbit. With one more test flight scheduled before going to a full production rate launch schedule.

Virgin's LauncherOne is another one aiming for this market but has yet to have a launch yet.

Oh, and HUGE CONGRATS for the RocketLab team. So weird seeing an orbital launch from NZ. I LOVE IT!
 
parapente
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Sun Jan 21, 2018 3:13 pm

Simply what you say.The dedicated competition.
Virgin's launcher seems somewhat of an afterthought to their primary consumer goal and as you say neither have even launched.
But there is a company that has been launching small sat's from a rocket dropped from a Tristar.
And the Microsoft co- founder has built something similar but larger to Virgin.
But with this successful launch it appears Rocketlab have a clear advantage in this marketplace.
I wish them the best.
 
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JetBuddy
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Sun Jan 21, 2018 3:44 pm

Congrats RocketLab! Watched the launch last night. Amazing stuff.
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:08 pm

parapente wrote:
Simply what you say.The dedicated competition.
Virgin's launcher seems somewhat of an afterthought to their primary consumer goal and as you say neither have even launched.
But there is a company that has been launching small sat's from a rocket dropped from a Tristar.
And the Microsoft co- founder has built something similar but larger to Virgin.
But with this successful launch it appears Rocketlab have a clear advantage in this marketplace.
I wish them the best.


Ah, ok.

Stratolaunch is a huge aircraft launch platform. They do not even have a rocket developed to launch from it yet.
And compared to PegasusXL, Electron has half the payload and costs an order of magnitude less. less that $6million compared to $46 million. So while they both are designed to launch smallsats Electron uses a completely new way was building a rocket that wasn't available when Pegasus was designed.
 
parapente
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:02 am

Thx for the info.
I am seriously impressed with these guys.They seem to have got their marketing right ( my field) along with the technology's they have employed.
There seems to be an explosion of demand for launching micro/small sat's these days with the costs dropping so even universities can consider launching them.
Am somewhat surprised at stratolaunch.An aircraft but no rocket......It may end up alongside Spruce Goose.Perhaps they could sling a SRB underneath with a small second stage? I guess it's big enough!
I really hope they do very well.
Not being nasty but I do wonder whether R Branson is clutching at straws.His venture must be costing him ( or most likely his backers) gazillions.But at its heart its a tourist/punter machine.It is that model that must work.Adding on a side show is - well - just that frankly.
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:42 am

parapente wrote:
Thx for the info.
I am seriously impressed with these guys.They seem to have got their marketing right ( my field) along with the technology's they have employed.
There seems to be an explosion of demand for launching micro/small sat's these days with the costs dropping so even universities can consider launching them.
Am somewhat surprised at stratolaunch.An aircraft but no rocket......It may end up alongside Spruce Goose.Perhaps they could sling a SRB underneath with a small second stage? I guess it's big enough!
I really hope they do very well.
Not being nasty but I do wonder whether R Branson is clutching at straws.His venture must be costing him ( or most likely his backers) gazillions.But at its heart its a tourist/punter machine.It is that model that must work.Adding on a side show is - well - just that frankly.


Branson's LauncherOne is making use of a former Virgin Atlantic 747 as the carrier aircraft. Using the 5th fery engine mounting point to carry a small rocket. Think like Orbital ATK's L-1011 and Pegasus. Only with a smaller rocket.
 
parapente
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:42 pm

Don't know how to do links but there is a really good article and long audio clip on the whole small sat marketplace. On the BBC website.The interview is with an ex Spacex guy who runs a US startup that looks incredibly promising.
 
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casinterest
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:49 pm

parapente wrote:
Don't know how to do links but there is a really good article and long audio clip on the whole small sat marketplace. On the BBC website.The interview is with an ex Spacex guy who runs a US startup that looks incredibly promising.



Copy the link from your address bar and paste it in here.
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parapente
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:02 pm

 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:45 pm

So it looks like RocketLab snuck a brand new kick stage onto the launch without publicly announcing it.
https://www.rocketlabusa.com/news/updat ... ick-stage/

Huntington Beach, California and Auckland, New Zealand January 23 2018: Rocket Lab, a US aerospace company with operations in New Zealand, has successfully tested a previously unannounced kick stage on the Still Testing Electron launch vehicle, using it to circularize the orbits of the two Spire Lemur-2 CubeSats on board.

The kick stage was flown and tested on board the recent Still Testing flight that was successfully launched on 21 January 2018 NZDT from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand. The complex mission was a success, with the new apogee kick stage coasting in orbit for around 40 minutes before powering up and igniting Rocket Lab’s new restartable liquid propulsion engine called Curie, then shutting down and deploying payloads. With the new kick stage Rocket Lab can execute multiple burns to place numerous payloads into different orbits.

Rocket Lab CEO and founder Peter Beck says the kick stage opens up significantly more orbital options, particularly for rideshare customers that have traditionally been limited to the primary payload’s designated orbit.

“Until now many small satellite operators have had to compromise on optimal orbits in order to reach space at an accessible cost. The kick stage releases small satellites from the constricting parameters of primary payload orbits and enables them to full reach their potential, including faster deployment of small satellite constellations and better positioning for Earth imaging,” Beck says.

The kick stage is designed for use on the Electron launch vehicle with a payload capacity of up to 150 kg and will be used to disperse CubeSat constellations faster and more accurately, enabling satellite data to be received and utilized sooner after launch.

Equipped with a precision pointing cold gas reaction control system, the kick stage also has its own avionics, power and communications systems.

As the proliferation of small satellites in low Earth orbit continues and the risk of collisions increases, the kick stage also offers a sustainable solution to reducing the amount of staging left to decay in orbit. The kick stage offers a much smaller system with its own green propulsion system to de-orbit the stage after mission completion, reducing the launch vehicle material left in space.
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:39 am

And the 3rd launch has been announced. First fully commercial launch too.

And the name picked is terribly kiwi. It's Business Time.


Huntington Beach, California. March 13, 2018: US orbital launch provider Rocket Lab has today confirmed its next launch will be the company’s first fully commercial flight. Two Lemur-2 cubesats for launch customer Spire Global will be on board the upcoming launch, with the full manifest to be confirmed in coming weeks.

The flight’s name was put to a vote on social media, with “It’s Business Time” coming out as a clear fan favourite and a continuation of company’s previous flight names, “It’s a Test” and “Still Testing”.

Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck says “It’s Business Time” highlights Rocket Lab’s agile approach to responsive space. The launch has been manifested weeks out from launch, rather than the many months or years it can typically take under existing launch models.

“We came at the challenge of opening access to space from a new perspective. Building to tail numbers and tailoring a vehicle to the payload is a rigid and slow way of getting satellites on orbit. As the satellite industry continues to innovate at a break-neck pace and the demand for orbital infrastructure grows, we’re there with a production line of Electron vehicles ready to go and a private launch site licensed for flight every 72 hours. Launch will no longer be the bottleneck that slows innovation in space,” he says.

“We always set out to test a launch vehicle that was as close to production-ready as possible. To complete a test program so quickly and be flying commercial customers is a great feeling. It’s business time,” Mr Beck adds.

Rocket Lab’s third Electron vehicle will be shipped to Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula in coming weeks, where final checkouts will be completed ahead of the “It’s Business Time” launch.

This year Rocket Lab is increasing its launch cadence and scaling up production of the Electron launch vehicle to meet a growing manifest. The company aims to produce 100 Rutherford engines in 2018 from its three-acre headquarters and production facility in Huntington Beach, California. More than 30 engines have already been completed and are undergoing integration onto Electron vehicles.

Rocket Lab’s first test launch, “It’s a Test,” was completed in May 2017, with the second test, “Still Testing,” taking place in January 2018. This flight successfully reached orbit, deployed commercial customer payloads for Planet and Spire Global and circularized an orbit using a previously unannounced kick stage.

For real-time updates in the lead up to “It’s Business Time”, follow Rocket Lab on Twitter @RocketLab


If you haven't seen the Flight of the Conchords song It's Business Time then you should. :p
 
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JetBuddy
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:05 pm

Excellent stuff. Really hope they succeed with their first commercial launch.
 
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Seabear
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Re: RocketLab nearly launches to orbit from NZ

Wed Mar 21, 2018 1:33 pm

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.geekwi ... llite/amp/

Apparently the orbit has been decaying more rapidly than predicted.

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