Los Angeles, CA, United States
Los Angeles, CA, United States

Rocket Lab Ltd. is a New Zealand firm that designs and fabricates sounding rockets, small satellite launch systems, and propulsion systems. Wikipedia.


Time filter

Source Type

SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 12, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), successfully completed its test campaign of a fuel boost kick pump at its Sacramento, California, facility as part of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator (HBTD) program. This device, as part of the engine turbomachinery, is the first full-scale engine component to be tested on the program. Aerojet Rocketdyne tested the pump units at full power to provide key insights for future engines that use the oxygen-rich staged combustion (ORSC) engine cycle. A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/e3fe919a-06ec-47df-8d1d-d31c6984f205 “Throughout testing last fall we steadily increased the speed of the pump; starting with bump tests to verify the pump was behaving as we predicted,” said Joe Burnett, Aerojet Rocketdyne program manager of the Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator program. “We’ve now successfully operated the device multiple times at full power, which is over 75,000 rpm; the fastest speed for any hydrocarbon pump to date. The sheer amount of data being gathered will help the rocket engine community better understand this pump, and its capabilities, when integrated into the turbomachinery assembly in the near future. Having completed testing on two units also gives us some insight to pump-to-pump variability as well.” The HBTD program is developing key technologies for rocket engines that employ an ORSC engine cycle – the same cycle that is used for the Aerojet Rocketdyne AR1 engine – a potential replacement engine for the Russian RD-180. The reusable HBTD demonstrator engine is a 250,000 lbf thrust class engine that is capable of up to 100 flights, and features high-performance, long-life technologies and modern materials. “Evolving rocket science is what we do best at Aerojet Rocketdyne, and the Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator program is key to enabling our country to demonstrate a state-of-the-art ORSC engine with components that include modern materials that are built using advanced manufacturing techniques,” said Eileen Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president. “What we’ve learned through this program will be instrumental as other engines, such as our AR1 engine, are developed using this same engine cycle.” “Using the Cryogenic Rocket Engine Simulation Tool Modified code originally developed under AFRL’s Upper Stage Engine Technology program, we’ve been able to accurately predict the behavior of the device, reducing risk as we increase our speeds,” added Burnett. “We’re putting to use government investments from one program and showing its versatility on another; saving money and schedule while also reducing risk to such a high-speed and high-performance device.” Aerojet Rocketdyne is an innovative company delivering solutions that create value for its customers in the aerospace and defense markets. The company is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader that provides propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, tactical systems and armaments areas, in support of domestic and international markets. Additional information about Aerojet Rocketdyne can be obtained by visiting our websites at www.Rocket.com and www.AerojetRocketdyne.com. The AFRL Rocket Lab is the singular space and missile propulsion R&D organization for the Air Force. As part of the Aerospace Systems directorate of AFRL, its mandate is to lead, discover, develop and transition rocket propulsion technologies to the Air Force, industry, and the Nation to maintain the U.S.’s space supremacy. Performing activities from basic research through in-house work and academia up to full scale technology demonstrators through R&D contracts, the AFRL Rocket Lab pursues technology solutions to current and future challenges http://www.wpafb.af.mil/afrl/rq.


SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 12, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), successfully completed its test campaign of a fuel boost kick pump at its Sacramento, California, facility as part of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator (HBTD) program. This device, as part of the engine turbomachinery, is the first full-scale engine component to be tested on the program. Aerojet Rocketdyne tested the pump units at full power to provide key insights for future engines that use the oxygen-rich staged combustion (ORSC) engine cycle. A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/e3fe919a-06ec-47df-8d1d-d31c6984f205 “Throughout testing last fall we steadily increased the speed of the pump; starting with bump tests to verify the pump was behaving as we predicted,” said Joe Burnett, Aerojet Rocketdyne program manager of the Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator program. “We’ve now successfully operated the device multiple times at full power, which is over 75,000 rpm; the fastest speed for any hydrocarbon pump to date. The sheer amount of data being gathered will help the rocket engine community better understand this pump, and its capabilities, when integrated into the turbomachinery assembly in the near future. Having completed testing on two units also gives us some insight to pump-to-pump variability as well.” The HBTD program is developing key technologies for rocket engines that employ an ORSC engine cycle – the same cycle that is used for the Aerojet Rocketdyne AR1 engine – a potential replacement engine for the Russian RD-180. The reusable HBTD demonstrator engine is a 250,000 lbf thrust class engine that is capable of up to 100 flights, and features high-performance, long-life technologies and modern materials. “Evolving rocket science is what we do best at Aerojet Rocketdyne, and the Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator program is key to enabling our country to demonstrate a state-of-the-art ORSC engine with components that include modern materials that are built using advanced manufacturing techniques,” said Eileen Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president. “What we’ve learned through this program will be instrumental as other engines, such as our AR1 engine, are developed using this same engine cycle.” “Using the Cryogenic Rocket Engine Simulation Tool Modified code originally developed under AFRL’s Upper Stage Engine Technology program, we’ve been able to accurately predict the behavior of the device, reducing risk as we increase our speeds,” added Burnett. “We’re putting to use government investments from one program and showing its versatility on another; saving money and schedule while also reducing risk to such a high-speed and high-performance device.” Aerojet Rocketdyne is an innovative company delivering solutions that create value for its customers in the aerospace and defense markets. The company is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader that provides propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, tactical systems and armaments areas, in support of domestic and international markets. Additional information about Aerojet Rocketdyne can be obtained by visiting our websites at www.Rocket.com and www.AerojetRocketdyne.com. The AFRL Rocket Lab is the singular space and missile propulsion R&D organization for the Air Force. As part of the Aerospace Systems directorate of AFRL, its mandate is to lead, discover, develop and transition rocket propulsion technologies to the Air Force, industry, and the Nation to maintain the U.S.’s space supremacy. Performing activities from basic research through in-house work and academia up to full scale technology demonstrators through R&D contracts, the AFRL Rocket Lab pursues technology solutions to current and future challenges http://www.wpafb.af.mil/afrl/rq.


SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 12, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), successfully completed its test campaign of a fuel boost kick pump at its Sacramento, California, facility as part of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator (HBTD) program. This device, as part of the engine turbomachinery, is the first full-scale engine component to be tested on the program. Aerojet Rocketdyne tested the pump units at full power to provide key insights for future engines that use the oxygen-rich staged combustion (ORSC) engine cycle. A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/e3fe919a-06ec-47df-8d1d-d31c6984f205 “Throughout testing last fall we steadily increased the speed of the pump; starting with bump tests to verify the pump was behaving as we predicted,” said Joe Burnett, Aerojet Rocketdyne program manager of the Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator program. “We’ve now successfully operated the device multiple times at full power, which is over 75,000 rpm; the fastest speed for any hydrocarbon pump to date. The sheer amount of data being gathered will help the rocket engine community better understand this pump, and its capabilities, when integrated into the turbomachinery assembly in the near future. Having completed testing on two units also gives us some insight to pump-to-pump variability as well.” The HBTD program is developing key technologies for rocket engines that employ an ORSC engine cycle – the same cycle that is used for the Aerojet Rocketdyne AR1 engine – a potential replacement engine for the Russian RD-180. The reusable HBTD demonstrator engine is a 250,000 lbf thrust class engine that is capable of up to 100 flights, and features high-performance, long-life technologies and modern materials. “Evolving rocket science is what we do best at Aerojet Rocketdyne, and the Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator program is key to enabling our country to demonstrate a state-of-the-art ORSC engine with components that include modern materials that are built using advanced manufacturing techniques,” said Eileen Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president. “What we’ve learned through this program will be instrumental as other engines, such as our AR1 engine, are developed using this same engine cycle.” “Using the Cryogenic Rocket Engine Simulation Tool Modified code originally developed under AFRL’s Upper Stage Engine Technology program, we’ve been able to accurately predict the behavior of the device, reducing risk as we increase our speeds,” added Burnett. “We’re putting to use government investments from one program and showing its versatility on another; saving money and schedule while also reducing risk to such a high-speed and high-performance device.” Aerojet Rocketdyne is an innovative company delivering solutions that create value for its customers in the aerospace and defense markets. The company is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader that provides propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, tactical systems and armaments areas, in support of domestic and international markets. Additional information about Aerojet Rocketdyne can be obtained by visiting our websites at www.Rocket.com and www.AerojetRocketdyne.com. The AFRL Rocket Lab is the singular space and missile propulsion R&D organization for the Air Force. As part of the Aerospace Systems directorate of AFRL, its mandate is to lead, discover, develop and transition rocket propulsion technologies to the Air Force, industry, and the Nation to maintain the U.S.’s space supremacy. Performing activities from basic research through in-house work and academia up to full scale technology demonstrators through R&D contracts, the AFRL Rocket Lab pursues technology solutions to current and future challenges http://www.wpafb.af.mil/afrl/rq.


SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 12, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), successfully completed its test campaign of a fuel boost kick pump at its Sacramento, California, facility as part of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator (HBTD) program. This device, as part of the engine turbomachinery, is the first full-scale engine component to be tested on the program. Aerojet Rocketdyne tested the pump units at full power to provide key insights for future engines that use the oxygen-rich staged combustion (ORSC) engine cycle. A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/e3fe919a-06ec-47df-8d1d-d31c6984f205 “Throughout testing last fall we steadily increased the speed of the pump; starting with bump tests to verify the pump was behaving as we predicted,” said Joe Burnett, Aerojet Rocketdyne program manager of the Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator program. “We’ve now successfully operated the device multiple times at full power, which is over 75,000 rpm; the fastest speed for any hydrocarbon pump to date. The sheer amount of data being gathered will help the rocket engine community better understand this pump, and its capabilities, when integrated into the turbomachinery assembly in the near future. Having completed testing on two units also gives us some insight to pump-to-pump variability as well.” The HBTD program is developing key technologies for rocket engines that employ an ORSC engine cycle – the same cycle that is used for the Aerojet Rocketdyne AR1 engine – a potential replacement engine for the Russian RD-180. The reusable HBTD demonstrator engine is a 250,000 lbf thrust class engine that is capable of up to 100 flights, and features high-performance, long-life technologies and modern materials. “Evolving rocket science is what we do best at Aerojet Rocketdyne, and the Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator program is key to enabling our country to demonstrate a state-of-the-art ORSC engine with components that include modern materials that are built using advanced manufacturing techniques,” said Eileen Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president. “What we’ve learned through this program will be instrumental as other engines, such as our AR1 engine, are developed using this same engine cycle.” “Using the Cryogenic Rocket Engine Simulation Tool Modified code originally developed under AFRL’s Upper Stage Engine Technology program, we’ve been able to accurately predict the behavior of the device, reducing risk as we increase our speeds,” added Burnett. “We’re putting to use government investments from one program and showing its versatility on another; saving money and schedule while also reducing risk to such a high-speed and high-performance device.” Aerojet Rocketdyne is an innovative company delivering solutions that create value for its customers in the aerospace and defense markets. The company is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader that provides propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, tactical systems and armaments areas, in support of domestic and international markets. Additional information about Aerojet Rocketdyne can be obtained by visiting our websites at www.Rocket.com and www.AerojetRocketdyne.com. The AFRL Rocket Lab is the singular space and missile propulsion R&D organization for the Air Force. As part of the Aerospace Systems directorate of AFRL, its mandate is to lead, discover, develop and transition rocket propulsion technologies to the Air Force, industry, and the Nation to maintain the U.S.’s space supremacy. Performing activities from basic research through in-house work and academia up to full scale technology demonstrators through R&D contracts, the AFRL Rocket Lab pursues technology solutions to current and future challenges http://www.wpafb.af.mil/afrl/rq.


News Article | June 15, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

China launched its X-ray telescope into orbit Thursday, marking another milestone for the nation that is trying to catch up in the space race. Xinhua, the state’s official news agency, reported that the Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope, which China is calling Insight, will focus on black holes and pulsars to better understand how they work, including how black holes evolve and how pulsars could be used to help spacecraft navigate. It will also study gamma-ray bursts, which are short and incredibly bright explosions of gamma-ray light that are released when matter collapses into a black hole. Read: Will NASA’s Next Space Station Be Made From Recycled Parts? Those gamma-ray bursts are in part so crucial because they can tell us more about the gravitational waves — predicted by physicist Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity 100 years ago but only confirmed recently — that are essentially ripples linked to distortions in the fabric of space, coming from huge events like black holes that orbit one another. Insight launched on a Long March-4B rocket from a location in the Gobi Desert in northwestern China, Xinhua said, and is now orbiting about 350 miles above the Earth. Chinese scientists are expecting the satellite to improve space technology in their country. “We are looking forward to discovering new activities of black holes and studying the state of neutron stars under extreme gravity and density conditions, and physical laws under extreme magnetic fields,” lead scientist Zhang Shuangnan said, according to international news service Agence France-Presse. “These studies are expected to bring new breakthroughs in physics.” China has been making moves into space in the last few months. In April, the nation used a rocket to launch its first cargo spacecraft to dock with Tiangong-2, its new orbiting space laboratory, which is unmanned. The maneuver was a step toward China’s goal of having a crewed space station within the next five years. And last month China announced it had students living in a year-long simulation of a space colony in Beijing, part of the country’s preparation for sending astronauts to the moon. The “Yuegong-1,” which translates to “lunar palace,” will be taking turns in isolation in the habitat, the size of a small apartment. Xinhua reported that there were sleeping compartments, a bathroom, areas for raising animals and plants and a room for waste treatment inside the pretend space colony. The students are meant to treat the situation as if they really are in isolation on another planet, solving problems on their own, growing their own food and recycling their waste. The lunar palace is the second experiment of its kind for China, which previously isolated volunteers in a simulator for a much shorter time period. China is not the only one that is seeking to catch up to the others that have been in space for decades — most recently New Zealand is also getting into the game. An American company called Rocket Lab run by a New Zealander last month announced its goal of launching about a rocket each week from the island nation in the southern Pacific Ocean. Read: SpaceX Wants to Launch 4,500 Satellites for Worldwide High-Speed Internet Rocket Lab has already sent up its lightweight Electron rocket from a peninsula in northeastern New Zealand and plans to start commercial launches later this year to haul cargo like satellites into low Earth orbit. Its goal of 50 or more launches from the country each year would outpace the United States. “So far, it’s only superpowers that have gone into space,” Simon Bridges, New Zealand’s economic development minister, told the Associated Press last month. “For us to do it, and be in the first couple of handfuls of countries in the world, is pretty impressive.” This NASA Mars Rover Looks Like It Came From The Future Two Countries Aim To Land Probe On Mars Moon Phobos


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

For more than a decade, CubeSats, or small satellites, have paved the way to low-Earth orbit for commercial companies, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations. For more than a decade, CubeSats, or small satellites, have paved the way to low-Earth orbit for commercial companies, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations. These small satellites offer opportunities to conduct scientific investigations and technology demonstrations in space in such a way that is cost-effective, timely and relatively easy to accomplish. The cube-shaped satellites measure about four inches on each side, have a volume of about one quart and weigh less than three pounds per unit (U). CubeSats can also be combined and built to standard dimensions of 1U, 2U, 3U, 6U, etc. for configurations about the size of a loaf of bread, large shoebox, microwave, and more. These small sats are used by scientists and researchers from all over the world as a way to take bold steps when it comes to space science and exploration. Their small size makes it possible to rapidly build and test, making CubeSats an ideal and affordable way to explore new technologies and ideas. CubeSat technology is used by many organizations outside of NASA to explore low-Earth orbit and the effects of microgravity. Together with NASA, companies like Orbital ATK, SpaceX, and NanoRacks give commercial companies the opportunity to fly their CubeSats as auxiliary payloads on cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station. In addition, Rocket Lab and Virgin Galactic will soon provide dedicated CubeSat launches from the new Venture Class Launch Services. CubeSats may be deployed directly from the rocket, from a spacecraft, or from the station itself depending on the mission. Planet Labs have developed a series of CubeSats to be launched across several expeditions, many of which have been deployed from the International Space Station via the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer. These Earth-imaging satellites will provide imagery to a variety of users as they focus on highly populated and agricultural areas to study urbanization and deforestation. The images will be used to improve natural disaster relief and crop yields in developing nations. NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative provides opportunities for small satellite payloads built by universities, high schools and non-profit organizations to fly on upcoming launches. Through innovative technology partnerships, NASA provides these CubeSat developers a low-cost pathway to conduct scientific investigations and technology demonstrations in space thus enabling students, teachers and faculty to obtain hands-on flight hardware development experience. Each proposed investigation must demonstrate a benefit to NASA by addressing aspects of science, exploration, technology development, education or operations relevant to NASA's strategic goals. This initiative provides NASA a mechanism for low-cost technology development and scientific research to help bridge strategic knowledge gaps and accelerate flight-qualified technology. Since its inception CSLI has selected 152 CubeSat missions from 68 universities and in 2015, NASA launched first CubeSat designed and built by elementary students. The recent eighth round of CubeSat selections will include 34 small satellites from 19 states and the District of Columbia to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard missions planned to launch in 2018, 2019 and 2020 CubeSat missions benefit Earth in varying ways. From Earth imaging satellites that help meteorologists to predict storm strengths and direction, to satellites that focus on technology demonstrations to help define what materials and processes yield the most useful resources and function best in a microgravity environment, the variety of science enabled by CubeSats results in diverse benefits and opportunities for discovery. "You never know what they're going to discover or find," said Susan Mayo, National Lab and Education Specialist for the International Space Station Program Science Office. "What better systems will emerge for Earth imaging? Are we going to develop a better system for doing something? You never know what long-term impact can come out of it. That's what this is all about - how is it going to benefit life on Earth in the end?" CubeSats are bringing dreams of spaceflight, discovery and science closer to home than ever. For more information about science and research aboard the station, visit ISS Research and Technology.


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: phys.org

The cube-shaped satellites measure about four inches on each side, have a volume of about one quart and weigh less than three pounds per unit (U). CubeSats can also be combined and built to standard dimensions of 1U, 2U, 3U, 6U, etc. for configurations about the size of a loaf of bread, large shoebox, microwave, and more. These small sats are used by scientists and researchers from all over the world as a way to take bold steps when it comes to space science and exploration. Their small size makes it possible to rapidly build and test, making CubeSats an ideal and affordable way to explore new technologies and ideas. CubeSat technology is used by many organizations outside of NASA to explore low-Earth orbit and the effects of microgravity. Together with NASA, companies like Orbital ATK, SpaceX, and NanoRacks give commercial companies the opportunity to fly their CubeSats as auxiliary payloads on cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station. In addition, Rocket Lab and Virgin Galactic will soon provide dedicated CubeSat launches from the new Venture Class Launch Services. CubeSats may be deployed directly from the rocket, from a spacecraft, or from the station itself depending on the mission. Planet Labs have developed a series of CubeSats to be launched across several expeditions, many of which have been deployed from the International Space Station via the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer. These Earth-imaging satellites will provide imagery to a variety of users as they focus on highly populated and agricultural areas to study urbanization and deforestation. The images will be used to improve natural disaster relief and crop yields in developing nations. NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative provides opportunities for small satellite payloads built by universities, high schools and non-profit organizations to fly on upcoming launches. Through innovative technology partnerships, NASA provides these CubeSat developers a low-cost pathway to conduct scientific investigations and technology demonstrations in space thus enabling students, teachers and faculty to obtain hands-on flight hardware development experience. Each proposed investigation must demonstrate a benefit to NASA by addressing aspects of science, exploration, technology development, education or operations relevant to NASA's strategic goals. This initiative provides NASA a mechanism for low-cost technology development and scientific research to help bridge strategic knowledge gaps and accelerate flight-qualified technology. Since its inception CSLI has selected 152 CubeSat missions from 68 universities and in 2015, NASA launched first CubeSat designed and built by elementary students. The recent eighth round of CubeSat selections will include 34 small satellites from 19 states and the District of Columbia to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard missions planned to launch in 2018, 2019 and 2020 CubeSat missions benefit Earth in varying ways. From Earth imaging satellites that help meteorologists to predict storm strengths and direction, to satellites that focus on technology demonstrations to help define what materials and processes yield the most useful resources and function best in a microgravity environment, the variety of science enabled by CubeSats results in diverse benefits and opportunities for discovery. "You never know what they're going to discover or find," said Susan Mayo, National Lab and Education Specialist for the International Space Station Program Science Office. "What better systems will emerge for Earth imaging? Are we going to develop a better system for doing something? You never know what long-term impact can come out of it. That's what this is all about - how is it going to benefit life on Earth in the end?" CubeSats are bringing dreams of spaceflight, discovery and science closer to home than ever. For more information about science and research aboard the station, visit ISS Research and Technology.


News Article | January 14, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

Florida-based company Moon Express, which hopes to mine the moon someday, has received the full funding it needs to make its first lunar trip. Moon Express is one of the teams that is vying for the $30 million race to the moon, the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP). The X Prize offers $20 million to the first privately funded team that would land a spacecraft on the lunar surface, move the vehicle at least 1,640 feet on the moon and send high-resolution images back to Earth. The second team that manages to do this gets $5 million. Moon Express is one of the frontrunners of the GLXP as it has already managed to secure permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to land on the surface of the moon becoming the first private company in the world to get permission to travel beyond our planet's orbit after months of negotiations with government officials. "Up until now all commercial companies have been limited to operations in Earth's orbit, and only governments have sent missions to other worlds," the company said in a statement. "Moon Express has become the first private company approved to literally go out of this world as a pioneer of commercial space missions beyond Earth orbit." Moon Express has also struck a deal with rocket manufacturer Rocket Lab to launch its vehicle into orbit. Recent developments give high hopes that the company would be one of the first of the XPrize competitors to get to the lunar surface as it now has all the resources needed to send a lander to the moon. Team members have revealed that Moon Express has secured $20 million in "Series B" funding, which now brings the amount of funds raised from private investors to more than $45 million. The additional funding came from multiple venture capital funds, the software company Autodesk and other private resources. X Prize requires that 90 percent of the competitors' funding be from private sources. The funding does not guarantee a successful flight to the moon though. Rocket Lab's Electron rocket has not flown yet and while the aeronautics startup said that it will start conducting flight tests earlier this year, no official launch date has yet been set. It is neither clear if Electron will be ready to bring Moon Express' MX-1E lander to space before the deadline set by the X Prize which will be on Dec. 31 this year. Moon Express is not just setting its eyes on the X Prize. It also plans to send more missions to the moon, which will include one that will collect lunar samples that will be brought back to Earth. The team plans to gather Helium-3 from the moon, which can be used in future nuclear fusion reactors. "Our goal is to expand Earth's social and economic sphere to the moon, our largely unexplored eighth continent, and enable a new era of low-cost lunar exploration and development for students, scientists, space agencies and commercial interests," said Moon Express CEO Bob Richards. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.96K | Year: 2015

Rocket Lab USA, Inc. proposes to develop and demonstrate how the use of the Electron launch vehicle either as an upper stage in support of the XS-1 program or dedicated small launch vehicle could employ the use of Automated Flight Termination (AFTS) technologies to reduce the cost of access to space without adversely impacting public safety. Providing the launch opportunity to obtain flight telemetry from Rocket Lab's initial test flight will enable the development of a ruggedized AFTS for future DARPA, NASA and commercial launch campaigns.


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

After three years of developing a brand-new rocket, aerospace startup Rocket Lab has finally transported a finished vehicle to the New Zealand launchpad where it will take its first flight. The rocket, called the Electron, has been tested on the ground over the last year but has never been flown to space before. Over the next couple of months, Rocket Lab will conduct a series of test launches of the vehicle to verify that it’s ready to carry payloads into orbit for commercial customers. Compared to other major commercial rockets like the Falcon 9 or the Atlas V, the Electron is pretty small — only 55 feet tall and and around 4 feet in diameter. That’s because the vehicle is specifically designed to launch small satellites. The vehicle can carry payloads ranging from 330 to 500 pounds into an orbit more than 300 miles up. That’s a relatively light lift contrasted with the Falcon 9, which can carry more than 50,000 pounds into lower Earth orbit. The Electron is specifically designed to launch small satellites But Rocket Lab isn’t interested in competing with major players like SpaceX or the United Launch Alliance. The company wants to capitalize solely on what is being hailed as the small satellite revolution — a trend of making space probes as tiny as possible. Typically, aerospace manufacturers will spend years and millions of dollars developing a satellite that’s roughly the size of a bus. And then an entire rocket is needed just to get one thousand-pound satellite into space. But technology has advanced in recent years, and companies have come up with ways to miniaturize their satellites, making these space probes as small as a shoebox. Small satellites usually take less time and money to make, and since they’re so compact, multiple probes can be launched to space on a single rocket. Various aerospace companies have started focusing on making and operating small satellites, and because of the enthusiasm surrounding these tiny spacecraft, Rocket Lab has received a huge influx of launch requests. “The customer uptake for the product has just been phenomenal,” Peter Beck, the founder of Rocket Lab, tells The Verge. “I think it’s a testament to the industry that 2017 for us is totally fully booked and has been for a year or more. And 2018, there’s only a few spots left. We haven’t even flown the vehicle yet on one test flight, and the manifest is overflowing.” Perhaps one of the things that makes Rocket Lab’s Electron so attractive to customers is the estimated price tag. The company claims it will only charge around $4.9 million for each launch. That’s a cheap option compared to one flight of the Falcon 9, for instance, which starts at $62 million. The Electron also sports some unique design features. The vehicle’s nine main engines, known as Rutherford engines, are manufactured mostly through 3D printing; they’re also partially electric. Batteries are used to power the turbopumps — key hardware that funnels the vehicle’s propellant into the engines. Typically, turbopumps are powered by a gas generator, where you essentially have another engine that spins the pumps’ turbine blades, but Beck says the batteries reduce the complexity of the engine’s machinery. “The reason why we arrived at the electric turbopump is we sat down and analyzed where the cost and complexity is in the engine, and it’s always in the turbine machinery,” says Beck. “The electric turbopump cycle allows us to take that really complicated thermodynamic problem and just turn it into software.” Getting the rocket and its engines ready for spaceflight has certainly taken time, but Rocket Lab has also had another daunting task to accomplish before the Electron can fly: creating an entirely new launchpad in New Zealand. It’s the country’s first launch site and the first private orbital launch range ever. And making the site functional has required more than just building the pad. Rocket Lab had to build tracking stations on remote islands in the Pacific, to trace the rocket’s path when it launches. The site also had to receive the necessary regulatory approvals to launch rockets. “It’s really been a massive infrastructure build, as well as a launch vehicle build.” “It’s really been a massive infrastructure build, as well as a launch vehicle build,” says Beck. “We joke around here that we wish that we just had to build a rocket like everyone else, because that would be easy. We had to build all the infrastructure that, normally, you would just turn up to a launch range and use.” All launches out of the US take place at launch ranges run by government organizations. With the New Zealand pad, Rocket Lab will be in control of the launch site, the tracking facilities, and the launch vehicle. The goal is to use all of these tools to launch one rocket per week, creating frequent access to space for the company’s customers. But first, Rocket Lab has to pull off its test flights of the Electron. The company plans to perform three test launches, the first of which is supposed to happen within the next few months. The inaugural rocket has been dubbed “It’s a Test,” and will carry scientific instruments in lieu of a payload to collect data about the flight. “We’re a very test heavy company; we do a lot of diligence in that area,” says Beck. If the three flights are successful, then Rocket Lab will get to work launching for its customers If those three flights are successful, then Rocket Lab will get to work fulfilling its contractual obligations to its customers. Those include small satellite operators Planet and Spire, as well as NASA. The space agency awarded Rocket Lab a $6.95 million contract in 2015 to launch a small NASA payload into lower Earth orbit. Additionally, Rocket Lab is slated to launch a small lunar lander for Moon Express, an aerospace company with long-term ambitions of mining the Moon someday. Moon Express is a competitor in the Google Lunar X Prize competition — an international contest to send the first private spacecraft to the Moon’s surface — and in order to win, participants must launch their landers before December 31st, 2017. So the success of Rocket Lab’s test flights is good news for Moon Express’ chances of winning the Google Lunar X Prize. "We are excited to see the Electron rocket arrive at the Mahia launch complex for its first test flight,” Bob Richards, CEO of Moon Express, tells The Verge. “The maiden launch of the Electron will be an exciting moment for Rocket Lab and the entire commercial space industry."

Loading Rocket Lab collaborators
Loading Rocket Lab collaborators