Rocket Lab has successfully completed the qualification of their entire second stage of the Electron launch vehicle.
The second stages are running at peak performance and are set to fly during the Electron test program that is scheduled to run throughout the second half of 2016.
The second stage is responsible for delivering payloads of 150 kg to a nominal 500 km sun-synchronous orbit. The second stage uses one 5,000 lbf Rutherford Engine with an extension nozzle optimized for vacuum performance. The stage and all of its primary components were designed, built and tested in-house at Rocket Lab by the company’s growing team of nearly 100 employees.
The Rutherford engine developed by Rocket Lab recently completed a qualification program involving over 200 hot fire tests.
Key factors that enable Rocket Lab to offer frequent and affordable dedicated launch opportunities for customers are the technologies being employed by the company, according to Peter Beck, the CEO of Rocket Lab. Those technologies include 3D printing, carbon composite structures and proprietary battery technology. “We are continuing to qualify and acceptance test large vehicle systems as we approach the start of our test program,” he said.