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January 29 – February 4, 2018 / Vol 37, No 5 / Hawai`i Island, USA

26 Jan 2018, 20:38 UTC
January 29 – February 4, 2018 / Vol 37, No 5 / Hawai`i Island, USA
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Commercial Small Launch Capacities Developing in 2018

Rocket Lab 2nd successful test of Electron places 3 satellites in orbit and potentially sets the company up for fast-paced commercial operations having produced Electrons 3-4, working on 5-7, and securing launch contracts with Moon Express, NASA, Spire, Planet and Spaceflight. Founder Peter Beck states Rocket Lab is hoping to eventually launch about 50 rockets a year. Electron is 2 stages, 17-meters tall and made using carbon fiber composite. With 9 oxygen-kerosene Rutherford engines it can loft 225 kg for the price of US$4.9M. Alongside companies such as Vector Space Systems and Virgin Orbit (and perhaps ~35 others), micro-satellite launch vehicles will fill the gap for low-cost launch needs of smaller companies that can’t afford SpaceX launches at $60M. Virgin Orbit, led by CEO Dan Hart, is aiming to fly LauncherOne before 2018 Q3 and begin commercial operations this year. LauncherOne is a 2-stage, air-launched vehicle using Newton refined petroleum-1 / liquid oxygen rocket engines capable of carrying 300 kg to sun-synchronous orbit and 450 kg to equatorial orbit for about $10M. Vector Space Systems, founded by Jim Cantrell, plans to launch microsats (up to 60kg) on Vector-R from Cape Canaveral. It is ...

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