Rocket Lab says it’s on track to test recovering an Electron booster later this year as it also improves the payload performance of the small launch vehicle.
Executives with several major small launch vehicle companies say both the economic repercussions of the pandemic and the growing interest by the U.S. government in such vehicles could reshape the industry.
Rocket Lab said July 31 an investigation concluded that an “anomalous electrical connection” caused the failure of an Electron rocket launch nearly four weeks earlier, as the company makes plans to return to flight.
NASA plans to issue multiple contracts in the coming months for smallsat launch services in the second phase of a program intended to support the emerging small launch vehicle industry.
The first half of 2020 has been sluggish for the commercial launch industry, but its problems can’t be explained solely by the coronavirus pandemic.
Small satellites and responsive launch are areas of particular interest to the NRO.
Rocket Lab has won contracts from the National Reconnaissance Office for a pair of Electron launches intended to demonstrate the company’s responsive launch capabilities.
Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck: "The market needs to grow a lot to sustain more than two companies."
Rocket Lab has tested an Electron rocket on its new launch pad in Virginia ahead of a launch that has been pushed back to later this year.
Japanese synthetic aperture radar (SAR) company Synspective announced April 14 it will launch its first satellite with Rocket Lab after initially selecting Arianespace for that mission.