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Electron Rocket Successfully Launches for Planet and Spire

By | January 22, 2018
Rocket Lab's Electron rocket takes off from the Mahia Peninsula on Jan. 20. Photo: Rocket Lab.

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket takes off from the Mahia Peninsula on Jan. 20. Photo: Rocket Lab.

Rocket Lab has successfully reached orbit with the test flight of its second Electron orbital launch vehicle, Still Testing. The Electron lifted off on Jan. 20 from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand, carrying a Dove Pioneer Earth-imaging satellite for Planet and two Lemur 2 satellites for Spire Global.

Following successful first and second stage burns, Electron reached orbit and deployed its customer payloads 8 minutes and 31 seconds after lift-off. In the coming weeks, Rocket Lab engineers will analyze the data from the launch to inform future launches.

This is Electron’s first journey to orbit; during its previous test flight in May, a ground equipment glitch forced the mission to end prematurely.

Rocket Lab currently has five Electron vehicles in production, with the next launch expected to take place early this year. At full production, Rocket Lab expects to launch more than 50 times a year, and is regulated to launch up to 120 times a year.

Rocket Lab’s commercial phase will see Electron fly already-signed customers including NASA, Spire, Planet, Moon Express and Spaceflight Industries.

“Reaching orbit on a second test flight is significant on its own, but successfully deploying customer payloads so early in a new rocket program is almost unprecedented. Rocket Lab was founded on the principle of opening access to space to better understand our planet and improve life on it. Today we took a significant step toward that,” said Rocket Lab Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and founder Peter Beck.