Space Startup Rocket Lab Has Reached Orbit For the First Time

Rocket Lab successfully sends rocket into orbit

Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle rises from its launch pad in New Zealand

Rocket Lab had counted all the way down to T-minus 2 seconds, when Beck says Electron automatically aborted.

"Once again, we're expecting to scrub multiple times as we wait for flawless conditions and make sure everything on the vehicle is performing as it should", said Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab. Operators of tiny satellites don't have many options to get to space, and typically have to hitch rides on launches of much bigger probes. The Electron rocket carried three small satellites into orbit for Rocket Lab customers.

This was the first time that a rocket with 3D-printed engines has been successfully launched from New Zealand. Compared to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, a neck-straining 180-feet tall, the Electron is very small.

As with launch locations in the United States, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 is located on a remote area of land within New Zealand - providing increased safety and a natural barrier to curious humans.

The flight will be the company's second and will carry small Earth-imaging satellites for U.S. companies Planet Labs and Spire Global. When the web-cast shutdown, Electron Still Testing made orbit.

The company's first test launch took place on May 25, 2017, reaching space but not achieving orbit.

In December, Electron missed its 10-day window after delays from weather and a last second abort.

The launch was later scrubbed as high winds passed over the Mahia Peninsula.

This was the second of three planned test launches.

"Electron is orbital. Successful payload deployment", the company tweeted.

Neither Rocket Lab nor Moon Express has given a date for a launch attempt. Its smaller size is meant to increase affordability and launch flexibility for customers with smaller payloads. The next launch was expected to take place this year.

"We're thrilled to reach this milestone so quickly after our first test launch", Beck said.

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