When Rocket Lab USA began its quest to provide more affordable methods of launching small satellites into space, its founders had a simple yet ambitious mission: “Opening access to space to improve life on earth.”
Since its founding in 2006, Rocket Lab has been on a relentless quest to develop rapid, repeatable and economical methods of launching small satellites into orbit. “We are driven to broaden the horizons of what’s already possible in space and are inspired by the possibilities not yet imagined,” they wrote.
To that end, Rocket Lab has developed the Electron launch vehicle and the world’s first privately owned launch facility in New Zealand on the Māhia Peninsula where it has carried out numerous successful orbital launches and is now entering a period of high frequency launch operations.
“Space, like business, is all about time and money,” said CEO and founder Peter Beck.
With the price of today’s private launches running upwards of $60 million per launch and prone to lengthy delays, the promise of rapid and affordable space launches remains out of reach for most companies and organizations. That’s where Rocket Lab has sought to focus its efforts on rapid and repeatable access to orbit for commercial companies and government customers alike.
To do so, two important things are needed: a drastic reduction in cost for dedicated launches and increased launch frequency. Currently, the high cost associated with small satellites reaching orbit presents a major barrier in the commercialization and exploration of space. This, combined with long lead times to get a satellite on orbit, means it is impossible to be responsive to the rapidly growing and evolving small satellite industry. Rocket Lab is solving this problem with its Electron rocket, a dedicated small satellite launch vehicle designed for high-frequency launch.
Until now, small satellites have been a secondary payload, hitchhiking on a rocket with larger satellites that dictate the orbit and launch schedule, which is often prone to delays. Rocket Lab provides a service dedicated solely to small satellites, giving our customers flexibility over when they launch and the orbit they want to reach.
“Your dream, your ideas, in space,” Beck said. Everything from better weather predictions and early warnings for natural disasters to providing internet service in rural areas or generating real-time maps becomes achievable for smaller companies with Rocket Lab’s more affordable approach to space access.
How affordable? $5.7 million USD, launched from the world’s only private orbital launch site, licensed for up to 120 orbital launches per year.
“Space is now open for business,” Beck said.