Following a successful January test launch of their Electron booster with 3D printed components, US private space firm Rocket Lab plans to go ahead with its first fully commercial mission later this month.
US orbital launch provider Rocket Lab has confirmed it will open a 14-day launch window in April to conduct the company’s first fully commercial launch.
The 14-day ‘It’s Business Time’ launch window will formally open on Friday April 20, 2018 NZT. During this time a four-hour launch window will open daily from 12:30 p.m. NZST (00:30 UTC).
‘It’s Business Time’ will launch from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand. Licensed to launch every 72 hours, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 is the world’s only private orbital launch facility.
Rocket Lab is the only private, dedicated small launch provider globally that has deployed satellites to orbit. ‘It’s Business Time’ marks the fastest transition a private launch provider has made from test program to fully commercial flights.
It’s Business Time for Rocket Lab
This mission follows just three months after Rocket Lab’s January 21 launch “Still Testing”, which successfully deployed an Earth-imaging satellite for Planet and circularized the orbit of two weather and AIS ship tracking satellites for Spire Global using Rocket Lab’s in-house designed and built kick stage.
“It’s Business Time represents the shift to responsive space. We always set out to create a vehicle and launch site that could offer the world’s most frequent launch capability and we’re achieving that in record time,” says Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck.
“Rocket Lab is the only small launch provider that has reached orbit and delivered on promises to open access to space for small satellites. We can have payloads on orbit every 72 hours and our rapidly expanding manifest shows this is frequency is critical for the small satellite market,” he adds.
Rocket Lab can achieve such a high launch frequency thanks to a “vertically integrated vehicle manufacturing” process that enables the company to roll an Electron vehicle off the production line every week.
The primary components for the nine Rutherford engines in the Electron booster can be 3D printed. This leads to speedier production times, which should come in useful for their 2018/19 launch manifest.
To meet demand, Rocket Lab has rapidly scaled production of the Electron launch vehicle across its three-acre headquarters and production facility in Huntington Beach, California. The company will produce 100 3D printed Rutherford engines this year to support a monthly launch cadence by the end of 2018.
Source: Press Release