WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A rocket launched from New Zealand has successfully reached orbit carrying commercial satellites.
California-based company Rocket Lab says its Electron rocket, which carries only a small payload of about 150 kilograms (331 pounds), successfully deployed an earth imaging and two other satellites for weather and ship tracking.
Company CEO and founder Peter Beck says the launch marks the marks the beginning of a new era in commercial access to space. He says deploying customer payloads on a second test flight “is almost unprecedented.”
The company last May reached space with its first test launch, only to abort the mission due to a communication glitch. It has official approval to conduct three test launches and sees an emerging market in delivering small devices, some as big as a smartphone, into orbit.