Rocket Lab announced today (July 29) its plan to revolutionize the global space industry with the creation of Electron, a lightweight, cost-effective rocket, making it easier for companies to launch small satellites into orbit.
Rocket Lab is building the world's first carbon-composite launch vehicle at its Auckland, New Zealand facility. The development of Electron will reduce the price of delivering a satellite into orbit. At a cost of less than $5 million dollars, this represents a drastic cost reduction compared to existing dedicated launch services.
The lead-time for businesses to launch a satellite will also be reduced from years down to weeks through vertical integration with Rocket Lab's private launch facility. Rocket Lab has already garnered strong commercial demand with commitments for its first 30 launches.
Electron is 18m in length, 1m diameter and will weigh more than 10 tons. This will be the first vehicle of its class capable of delivering payloads up to 100kg into low Earth orbits (LEO).
Peter Beck founded the company in 2007 with the vision of eliminating the commercial barriers to space. Until now, rockets have remained prohibitively large and expensive, despite the trend for satellites to become smaller, more capable and affordable. Rocket Lab will help to fulfill the deficit in launch systems by helping to break the cost barrier to commercial ventures and for the emerging satellite constellation markets.
"The innovation behind Electron will release the limitations on launching small satellites. Our vision at Rocket Lab is to make space commercially viable and more accessible than ever, doing what the Ford Model T did for consumer automobiles. This technology will really open space for business," said Mr. Beck, CEO, Rocket Lab.
"Along with benefits for commercial enterprises, cheaper and faster space access has the potential to lead to more accurate weather prediction, global high speed Internet access, as well as real-time monitoring of the impacts of human development," said Mr. Beck.
Rocket Lab's principal funder is top-tier Silicon Valley venture firm, Khosla Ventures, which has a long track record of backing breakthrough technologies that revolutionize industries.
Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures, says it is exciting to see to the technology and innovation coming out of Rocket Lab.
"We are thrilled to be investing in the next chapter of Rocket Lab's development as they drive down the cost of launch vehicles to provide greater access to space," said Mr. Khosla.
"The company's technical innovations will truly transform the space industry."