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Space

Rocket Lab Successfully Reaches Orbit and Deploys Its First Satellites (geekwire.com) 64

Long-time Slashdot reader ClarkMills writes: Rocket Lab has successfully launched its second Electron rocket from New Zealand's Mahia Peninsula, with the rocket reaching orbit for the first time... This follows the company's first launch last May, in which the rocket got to space but did not make it to orbit after range safety officials had to kill the flight.
Just 60 seconds before lift-off yesterday, a "rogue ship" entered their launch-range area, prompting them to postpone the launch until today. GeekWire reports: This mission was nicknamed "Still Testing," but unlike the first mission, the objective was not merely to test Rocket Lab's hardware. The rocket had the additional task of putting three nanosatellites in orbit: an Earth-imaging Dove satellite for Planet, and two Lemur-2 satellites that the Spire space venture would use for tracking ships and monitoring weather... The price tag for a mission is as low as $5 million, thanks to streamlined hardware production techniques. The Electron makes use of carbon composite materials for its rocket core, and 3-D printing techniques for its Rutherford rocket engines.
90 minutes ago Spire tweeted that they'd experienced a "good clean deployment" of their satellites, adding that they were already receiving images and calling it "a huge win" for commercial space, small satellites, the Electron rocket, and New Zealand.

UPDATE: Long-time Slashdot reader Hairy1 shares Rocket Lab's video of their launch.
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Rocket Lab Successfully Reaches Orbit and Deploys Its First Satellites

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  • Space Age (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @11:39PM (#55970257)

    It seems to me, that we are at long last ACTUALLY entering the Space Age - a label given too prematurely.

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      It seems to me, that we are at long last ACTUALLY entering the Space Age - a label given too prematurely.

      Personally, I don't think polluting Low Earth Orbit qualifies us for the Space Age. It's like saying we entered industrial age when someone first wove reeds or knapped flint.

      Once we have people living on Titan, or have a probe orbiting a different star, I think we're a bit closer. Neither will happen for quite a few generations yet.

      • Re:Space Age (Score:4, Interesting)

        by thinkwaitfast ( 4150389 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @02:22AM (#55970591)
        Getting Low Earth Orbit is the hardest part of getting anywhere in the solar system. Until you can demonstrate you can do this, everything else is a waste.
        • by arth1 ( 260657 )

          Getting Low Earth Orbit is the hardest part of getting anywhere in the solar system. Until you can demonstrate you can do this, everything else is a waste.

          No, it's certainly a hard part for land dwelling animals, but it's immensely easier to toss stuff into LEO than it is to do most stuff in space. Going to Mars is a different ballpark. Not to say anything about leaving the solar system.

          And tossing small objects into low orbits is not very new either, and doesn't require today's technology. Sputnik was 1958.
          Slide rules and telegraph messages.

          It's a step, but a step does not establish the journey. We have a long ways to go before we even can say where we'r

          • "Sputnik was 1958"

            Fuck. What timeline is this?

            • . Fuck. What timeline is this?

              Dunno, bit in the timeline I was born in, Sputnik 1 was 1957
              Not sure how many other Russian craft were called Sputnik
              Sputnik 2 was dogged (or should that be bitched)

            • by Anonymous Coward

              It's the timeline where Biff Tannen is in the White House. Sorry.

          • but it's immensely easier to toss stuff into LEO than it is to do most stuff in space.

            Well, no. In terms of deltaV, LEO is more than halfway to anywhere. LEO+40% is Terra Escape Speed. LEO doubled is pretty much Solar Escape Speed....

            • Sure, it's not that much harder to *get* to anywhere, assuming you're willing to wait years or decades to arrive. Actually *doing* anything there - mining, refining, manufacturing, colonizing etc... We currently don't have a lot of technology oriented towards those ends. And if we try to do it with accepted American/European levels of safety and refinement, it's liable to be a long, slow, expensive project.

              On the other hand, while getting into orbit requires a lot of precision as every gram matters, actua

            • by arth1 ( 260657 )

              Well, no. In terms of deltaV, LEO is more than halfway to anywhere. LEO+40% is Terra Escape Speed. LEO doubled is pretty much Solar Escape Speed....

              Brute speed isn't the overriding achievement. Achieving the speed needed to go to the moon was the least of the problems fifty years ago.
              We're nowhere near conquering space, but paddle around in the surf, thinking we've conquered the ocean.

        • Until you can demonstrate you can do this, everything else is a waste.

          We demonstrated that we could do that [as a species] decades ago. And yet, all we've done with it is communications and spy satellites, and some small science projects. If that's the hard part, why haven't we done the other things?

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      It seems to me, that we are at long last ACTUALLY entering the Space Age - a label given too prematurely.

      Reaching orbit was - unlike many other arbitrary lines in the sand - a real breakthrough compared to crashing back to earth. And we went from that to landing on the Moon and sending the first probe to leave the solar system in 20 years (1957-1977), that's an amazing development over a short time that deserves its own "age". If you look at all the communication satellites, broadcast satellites, observation satellites, GPS system, ISS, deep space probes etc. we have in space I think it would be complete lunac

      • I've got to agree - access to space it the natural point to mark the beginning of the Space Age. Historically, I think that will be seen as the beginning of our expansion, even if it started a little slowly. Whats a few decades to start in the face of history?

        "Space Colonization Age" is just too wordy - and I doubt the distinction will really matter after the first generation of colonists have passed.

    • Yes we are. We can now launch satellites into LEO. Truly the dawn of a new age.
  • by banjonz ( 1700418 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @11:45PM (#55970271) Homepage
    This makes me proud to be a kiwi.
  • I've tried to catch every launch of SpaceX (and NASA). One thing I noticed in the video - when the second stage lights off, it really scoots away from the first stage! A LOT more than with Falcon launches.

    • Another thing is this went straight up for the whole first stage without adding much tangential velocity. Probable a much higher power to mass ratio.

      Calculus of variations.

      How does it work?

      • Hmm, you're right - though it did seem to start leaning over around the time it his max dynamic pressure.

        I wonder... if their vacuum engine is notably more efficient than their atmospheric one, then it might make sense to just get out of the atmosphere as quickly/cheaply as possible, and then let a larger second stage worry about the acceleration. Especially if they're going with composite materials for the tanks so that the mass penalty of continuing to accelerate a larger, but mostly empty, tank is not s

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Atmosphere is much more of an impediment for smaller rockets and results in a very significant dV penalty, that's why its important to get out asap, for systems like Pegasus and some anti satellite missiles it even makes sense to do an air launch. Whereas for a large rocket like Saturn V atmosphere is almost negligible. Size disadvantage becomes worse and worse smaller you get, tabletop orbital launcher is pretty much impossible, dV requirement would become ridiculous due to atmospheric losses.

      • This is 100% speculation:
        Their payload was much lighter than maximum capacity. Therefore they could afford a less than optimal ascent profile. Because this was primarily a test, they were keen on getting complete uninterrupted telemetry. Therefore they used an ascent profile which would keep the rocket in line of sight of the receiving dishes at launch site, from launch to at least stage 2 shutdown.

  • by duinsel ( 935058 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @05:33AM (#55970947)
    It is notable that their engine uses electrically powered pumps for fuel and oxidizer. Most rocket engines use turbo pumps that burn fuel to spin a turbine that is connected to these pumps, which require a respectable amount of power. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] Here, they use LiPo batteries to power DC electric pumps (2x 50hp), which reduced complexity and cost. I was quite surprised that this is a feasible approach.
    • Power density is close, but H2O2 powered pumps still had them beat last time I calculated, but there's always more than one criteria (safety, complexity, cost, certification for example).
    • It is notable that their engine uses electrically powered pumps for fuel and oxidizer. Most rocket engines use turbo pumps that burn fuel to spin a turbine that is connected to these pumps, which require a respectable amount of power. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] Here, they use LiPo batteries to power DC electric pumps (2x 50hp), which reduced complexity and cost. I was quite surprised that this is a feasible approach.

      I have a feeling it's only feasible at such a relatively small scale, compared to other orbital rocket engines. It probably saves a lot on cost and complexity.

  • Great work guys!

    When I think of other counties that have reached space I can't think of any who didn't need the technology for their nuclear weapons. Is there any other countries with a successful space program that didn't need it for their military?

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