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Rocket Lab Postpones Electron Launch To Perform More Tests

California-based Rocket Lab’s plan of testing out its reusable rocket components might be executed a little later than anticipated, the company has said in a statement. In the announcement made on November 29, 2019, the firm stated that it has to interrupt its scheduled take off for a while to perform further trials.

A Twitter post from the company confirms that Rocket Lab intends to undergo further checks on ground systems ahead of the launch which, for November 29 at 0820 GMT. The Electron rocket was set for takeoff at the Launch Complex 1 in Mahia Peninsula launch site, New Zealand. The mission included the transport of seven satellites into Earth orbit. The company has additionally said that despite the delay, the launch window is still open until December 12. Rocket Lab is set to announce another target launch date soon.

Reusability is expected to play a significant role in this, given that Rocket Lab intends to reduce operational costs on future missions. Among the equipment included in the Electron are telemetry sensors, which will aid in the capture of rocket components mid-air during re-entry with the help of a helicopter. The two other leading private companies in the sector, Amazon’s Blue Origin and SpaceX under Elon Musk, also employ reusable technologies. Both companies use engines that slow down the boosters as they drop to the ground, eventually touching down vertically. Peter Beck, the CEO of Rocket Lab, said that the Electron, a lighter rocket intended to send smaller satellites into orbit, could not perform its functions without significant adjustments.

The Electron is 15, tall when fully assembled, and has a maximum capacity of about 227 kilograms on each mission. For every Electron launch, Rocket Lab charges $5 million, a cost that is typically divided among the small satellites known as CubeSats, which take up most of the space on the rocket. In comparison to other spacecraft sending payloads to orbit, the Electron is miniature; the Falcon 9 from SpaceX is 70 meters tall and costs $62 million to send to space on each mission.

In an interview with Space.com in September, Beck revealed that the company spends close to 70% of its launch resources and time on building the Electron’s first stage. Therefore, he said, the company would be able to increase its production and launch speed if it achieves its reusability targets. The December mission is named Running Out of Fingers and will be the company’s 10th mission to date.

This post was originally published on Market Research Sheets

About the author

Sarah Lacy

Sarah Lacy

Sarah Lacy is a reporter covering Amazon. She previously covered tech and transportation, and she broke stories on Uber's finances, self-driving car program, and cultural crisis. Before that, she covered cybersecurity in finance. Sarah's work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Politico, and the Houston Chronicle.
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