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Space Businesses Communications

Rocket Lab Inaugurates The Era Of Even Cheaper Rocket Launches ( 57

pacopico writes: Elon Musk and SpaceX kicked off the New Space era with low-cost, reusable rockets. But now there's something just as dramatic brewing with really, really cheap rockets and really, really cheap satellites. Bloomberg has just profiled Peter Beck, a self-taught rocket engineer from New Zealand, who has built a $5 million rocket that will be taking cubesats [miniaturized satellites] from Planet Labs and others to space in the next few weeks. The story talks about a new type of computing shell being built around the Earth and all the players trying to fill it up.
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Rocket Lab Inaugurates The Era Of Even Cheaper Rocket Launches

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  • >self-taught rocket engineer

    Just wow. Many people say that Musk would've been better off staying with his underhanded website business. What we can say about that guy? Was he running a plumbing company before getting into rocketry?

    • Well, technically, rockets are quite a lot about plumbing...
    • What we can say about that guy? Was he running a plumbing company before getting into rocketry?

      You could try actually reading the article, which will tell you all about how he got into rocketry and his various jobs.

    • by taniwha ( 70410 )

      he designed dishwashers ...

  • I mean all that treaties about rockets.
    • Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Sunday July 02, 2017 @06:33PM (#54731723) Homepage

      If you RTFA : yes, and actually they managed quite a few feat to make it both legal and easier on them.

      - the launch site is privately owned (no competition to use it by other branches government)
      - the launch site is quite remote (no need to wait and coordinate with air traffic)

      basically they managed to be legit, and they did in creative manner that actually enable them to operate better.

    • What's even worse than a typical Slashdotter? A weekend Slashdotter.
  • So we've finally developed a rocket that we can use to start cleaning up space and the first order of business is to add more space garbage? It figures.

  • This is good news. We will be "getting off this rock" stuck in this "gravity well" any day now.

    Chief Space Nutter
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Their first try didn't make orbit. Oh, they are somewhat legit, but I wouldn't celebrate too much until they've proved to have solved the problem and orbited something.

    Granted, it took four tries for Mr. Musk to get there and even the Chinese government and all their resources just welped their second Long March 5 launch - space is hard and all that. Still, Rocket Labs still has some ways to go before they are a legit launch provider.

    • by godefroi ( 52421 )

      Plus, how much market is there for shoebox-sized satellites? Universities and "satellite hobby clubs" would be interested, but there's a reason why SpaceX never built any more Falcon 1 rockets...

  • Wide usage of steel tools was followed by a Christianity revolution. The first functional steam engine in 1781 was followed by the Great French Revolution of 1789.

    We cannot say what it would be this time. But I am afraid the principle will continue to work.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    if you look at the cost per pound instead of cost per launch, this is a very inefficient rocket (worse than ULA) It's payload is tiny.

    now, there are cases where $/launch is the driving factor, but not most of the time.

    If the $/pound is low enough (and SpaceX is close to 1/10 these folks), you can piggy-back these cubesats on another launch, even using the spacex second stage to put them into a different orbit than the main payload.

    If you don't have a time-critical need, you can wait for a much cheaper seco

    • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

      SpaceX just launched 10 Iridium Next satellites. Those satellites weigh roughly a metric ton each. SpaceX charged them roughly $6 million per satellite based on published launch prices.

      RocketLab charges a similar price to launch a satellite, but with a fraction as much payload capacity.

  • He has solved the heat problems by going at night!!!!
  • Rocket Lab is doing cool stuff, but the comparison to SpaceX is tenuous.

    Rocket Lab's Electron rocket is very similar in size to a V2 (world war II) rocket, with loaded mass 10,500 kg. Wikipedia says it delivers 150-225 kg to a 500 km sun synchronous orbit. The initial Falcon 9 had loaded mass 333,400 kg and delivers 10,450 kg to low earth orbit, and the current Falcon 9 can do about twice that in expendable mode.

    Rocket Lab aren't threatening SpaceX's business at all. SpaceX is currently not threatening Rock

  • That's the key phrase, there's so much space junk there already, that maybe, just maybe, we need to think about that instead.

    Tiny flecks of stuff, let alone decent sized cubesats, have the power to cause a lot of damage to the ISS, for example.

I have hardly ever known a mathematician who was capable of reasoning. -- Plato