Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab sent a rocket into space from New Zealand on Thursday, May 25th. They called this launch “Test one” to make the point that it is just a test at this stage. There will be two more tests later this year. Test one did not go into orbit but the company is very pleased with the result and called it a successful test.

The aim is to put small satellites, including CubeSats, into orbit. These micro-satellites or CubeSats come in units of 10 cubic centimetres, weighing 1.33 kg. A number of them, maybe six, can be stacked together. They can be used for scientific research and of course are much cheaper than the usual satellites. Cameras can be placed in them to view parts of the earth or space.

Rocket Lab is offering to launch these satellites for $110,000. The company is planning one launch each week.

Rocket Lab is a private company which employs a staff of over 100 in New Zealand. Although it was developed and launched in New Zealand, with some New Zealand finance, it has the support of a number of American companies like Lockheed Martin. The rocket that was launched last week had a silver fern (symbol of New Zealand) on the tip and an American flag on the end. It was 17m tall.

The launch site is Mahia Peninsula in Hawkes Bay but the company is looking at other sites as well, including Birdlings Flat on Banks Peninsula in Canterbury.

Vocabulary

• launch (v) – to send a new rocket into space or a new ship into the sea.
• orbit (v) – to circle the earth from space






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