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Commercial rocket from New Zealand deploys small satellites

Commercial rocket from New Zealand deploys small satellites

Those smaller rockets - including the current Electron model - are meant to serve the growing demand for deployment of small satellites known as microsats or cubesats.

A range of government agencies, led by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), are supporting Rocket Lab's test launch activities to ensure they are safe and secure. 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.

A Rocket Lab Electron booster launches on the company's second test flight, called "Still Testing", from the company's Māhia Peninsula launch site in New Zealand on January 21, 2018 local time.

Yesterday the company tried six times to launch its rocket, with one attempt stopping sixty seconds before take off due to a boat entering the exclusion zone downrange from the launch pad. The engines were made with 3D printers to save money.

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

Then Rocket Lab also had some difficulty getting this second test flight off the ground. The payload included a Dove Earth-imaging and two Spire weather satellites. The launch of Rocket Lab's Electron Rocket will go down as the first successful commercial space launch in the southern hemisphere.

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The company has become the second in the world to have put something in orbit, and New Zealand the 11th nation.

The Electron can carry up to about 225 kg of payload.

"Very nice launch. My heartiest congratulations to the Rocket Lab team".

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

"Still Testing" was originally slated to blast off during a launch window in November of a year ago, but the launch was delayed after a power fault in the ground systems triggered an automatic abort just seconds before liftoff.

Rocket Lab now has five Electron vehicles in production, with the next launch expected to take place in early 2018.

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