Rocket Lab—U.S.-based aerospace manufacturer—reached orbit, in its second flight attempt on January 21, 2018.
The test mission, dubbed ‘Still Testing’, had three customer satellites in tow: one is an Earth-imaging satellite and the other two are for tracking weather and boats. The successfully launching of Rocket Lab’s satellites into orbit, has proven that its Electron rocket flights are a viable low-cost alternative for companies that want to send small payloads to space.
The size of Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket measures around one-fourth the size of a Falcon 9, with a maximum payload capacity of 500 pounds. The rockets are much smaller than most of its competitors’, however, each flight costs only US$ 5 million due to its small size. Those engines are primarily composed of 3D-printed components, and they use battery-powered electric motors that are more efficient than those that run on gas. That is why it only costs around US$ 30,000 to send a CubeSat or a similarly small payload to space atop an Electron.
The company’s take off was postponed a few times due to technical and weather issues, however, it was successful when it did launch. Rocket Lab is gearing up to launch a third test flight later in 2018 and might also be preparing to fulfill its contracts with NASA and lunar-mining company Moon Express.
Rocket Lab is a new player in the market, which has proven to gain attention from several manufactures interested in launching satellites. The growing aerospace industry in turn, is expected to drive demand for aerospace materials, as elaborated in the Aerospace Materials Market report published by Coherent Market insights.