Rocket Lab had counted all the way down to T-minus 2 seconds, when Beck says Electron automatically aborted.
Aerospace company Rocket Lab said Sunday it had successfully fired a rocket into orbit for the first time from its New Zealand launch base.
"There's much more to this mission than meets the eye and we'll make an announcement about that in the next couple of days". The Electron rocket carried three small satellites into orbit for Rocket Lab customers.
Rocket Lab's Electron launch vehicle rises from its launch pad in New Zealand. "Today we took a significant step towards that".
Satellite payloads themselves are worth anywhere from $200,000 to "half a billion".
"After 30 years in the launch industry with hundreds of launches, each one is still a thrill". Rocket Lab had their first foray into space three years ago with the launch of the Atea-1 suborbital sounding rocket. The payload included a Dove Earth-imaging and two Spire weather satellites.
The US start-up, with a subsidiary in New Zealand, first attempted to launch the rocket on Saturday, but had to interrupt the process when two rogue vessels were spotted nearby. 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. Rocket Lab's Electron is in response to this growing market. When the web-cast shutdown, Electron Still Testing made orbit. The company is also slated to launch a lunar lander for the company Moon Express, which hopes to mine the Moon for resources someday.
Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck said the launch marked the beginning of a new era in commercial access to space. Its smaller size is meant to increase affordability and launch flexibility for customers with smaller payloads. But Rocket Lab does have five completed Electron rockets available, and expects to fly again in "early 2018".