Today’s launch by Rocket Lab, “The Owl Spreads Its Wings” was as inconspicuous as a rocket in orbit can be, but it also marked a few milestones for the growing space company: 30 launches and 150 satellites launched into space .
The company’s first trip to Earth orbit was in January 2018, technically Electron’s second test flight, but the first successful delivery of a payload into space. That was after more than 10 years of design, engineering and manufacturing since the company was founded in 2006.
It then had a continuous run of 18 launches, but at 20 there was an anomaly and it lost its payload and vehicle. But as Founder and CEO Peter Beck told me shortly afterwards, “Not more than seconds after we realized we had an anomaly, the team was already working on it.” And it was clear that they could fly a month later.
The company’s ambitions have only grown since then, with plans to design spacecraft, a trip to Venus and a bigger, better launch vehicle called Neutron that will compete with Rocket Lab’s bigger colleagues. Of course, as Beck tells it, this was the plan from the start – they had to capture the launch first.
2022 has seen nothing but successes, including the first attempt at catching a falling first stage with a helicopter. They will try again before the end of the year, but you can relive that nail-biting moment here:
Today’s launch (well…tomorrow’s, technically, since they’re in New Zealand) was for Japanese company Synspective, which took over the entire vehicle to deliver its StriX-1 satellite in a circular track of 563 kilometers. (Rocket Lab also delivered two other StriX satellites in February of this year and December of 2020.)
We expect to hear more about Rocket Lab’s ambitions when Beck talks to londonbusinessblog.com at our TC Sessions: Space event in December.