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Old 28th May 2017, 09:33 AM
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The Irreverent Mr Black The Irreverent Mr Black is offline
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Default Small Launches For Small Loads


Most commercial rockets have a cargo capacity measured in tons, but the new Electron launch vehicle from Rocket Lab is designed for lighter duty. This rocket can haul just 150 kg (331 pounds) into orbit, but itís cheap and small ó really, look how cute and little it is. Rocket Lab is still working out the kinks with the Electron, but it successfully launched the first rocket from its New Zealand facility today. There was no payload and the rocket didnít quite reach orbit, but the company is still calling it a win.

The rocket, dubbed ďItís a Test,Ē lifted off from the Mahia Peninsula on the North Island of New Zealand in the early afternoon of May 25th local time. The first stage climbed as expected, reaching space before something went wrong with the second stage. The second stage separated and ignited, but what exactly happened after that is unknown right now. Thus, it didnít have enough power to reach orbit. The company is looking into the specifics, but reaching space on its very first launch isnít bad.

Electron is tiny as rockets go at just 17 meters tall. Thatís much smaller than the Falcon 9 (68 meters tall) or Atlas V (58 meters tall), and that means it has a correspondingly small payload capacity. Electron is never going to hoist a full-size communication satellite into orbit, but itís great for launching smaller devices like CubeSats. Currently, anyone wanting to get one of these microsatellites into orbit has to wait for space to be available aboard a larger rocket, but the Electron could launch more quickly and cheaply. The total cost of a launch is just $5 million, compared with $62 million for a Falcon 9.
And, in news that smarts a bit, NZ has a space program of sorts: what's Oz got?

When the winds of change blow hard enough, the most trivial of things can become deadly projectiles.

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Old 3rd June 2017, 12:39 AM
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Strato Strato is offline
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Default Re: Small Launches For Small Loads

Space, lots of that.

And ore, and coal, and subs.
Everything admits of a naturalistic explanation.
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