The Electron rocket, nicknamed ‘it’s Business Time,” is set to launch fromRocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 on the on the Māhia Peninsula on New Zealand’s North Island this weekend. The company has a nine-day launch window with the first chance coming on November 10.A bit of space trivia for readers – “It’s Business Time” got its name in honor of being the first of the company’s rockets to carry a full load of paying customers. The staff thinks up the names. “It’s a very serious business,” said CEO Peter Beck. “You’ve got to have some fun along the way.”On board will be seven payloads, including a demonstration drag sailto practice de-orbiting space junk and a student-led experiment for the city of Irvine’s CubeSat STEM program. The rocket will also be carrying two satellites for Spire’s earth-monitoring constellation, two for Fleet’s space-based smart devices grid, and one for GeoOptics.
The CubeSat was built by high school students from the Irvine, California area and will be sending various measurements and observations back to the students from low earth orbit. IRVINE01, as it is called, is also the first satellite that will have Accion Systems’ electrospray thrust modules, tiny modular things that are highly efficient and perfect for small craft, according toTech Crunch.Aboard IRVINE01 is a low-resolution camera that will take pictures of Venus, stars and other celestial objects. Data from these images can be used to calculate distances to stars and determine pointing accuracy and stability of the satellite. If all goes well, IRVINE01 will also bethe first CubeSatto directly communicate with high school students. How cool is that?
The Electron Rocket is small but mightyAt 17 meters (56 feet) tall, the Electron rocket about a quarter the size of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. But that’s alright with Rocket Lab because they are looking ahead to the emerging field of small satellites, like CubeSats. Another consideration is that smaller rockets don’t cost near as much as a bigger one.Keep in mind that an Electron costs just $5.7 million, compared to up to $50 million for a Falcon 9 rocket,according to Forbes. Another advantage is that waiting for a ride on a Falcon 9 might be two years, while Rocket Lab is promising to shorten the wait to just six months.Beck told Forbes, “What we’re looking to do here is build towards the next 100 rockets, not the next one rocket. We’ve always been very bold and not too shy to say that we hope to be launching to space the most often of anybody in the world.”