Moving to New Zealand isn’t Rocket Science, or is it?

Australia may soon be able to access space a lot closer to home than ever before if a New Zealand Company called Rocket Lab has anything to do with it. They believe that by 2015 they will be ready to launch satellites into space for the measly sum of $5 million dollars if they can only entice 30 odd rocket scientists to move to Auckland.

The “Rutherford” launch system is named after New Zealand-born physicist Ernest Rutherford and won’t be using standard propellant. Rather, it will be powered by rocket-grade kerosene and liquid oxygen, with an estimated 13.3 kilo-newtons of thrust.

Peter Beck with a model of Rutherford

Each Rutherford will be fitted with nine of these engines, dubbed Electron, with Rocket Lab claiming that it can suffer “a complete engine loss before launch and still complete its mission”. The second stage of the rocket runs a single Rutherford engine with a nozzle designed for vacuum operation.

Founder and CEO Peter Beck said “the use of carbon fibre materials, a scaling-down of capacity in line with shrinking satellite loads, and a favourable launch location in NZ make the project feasible”. Their low cost carbon-composite rockets will cost around $5 million Australian dollars and will save companies nearly $95 million dollars compared to current available launch options.

Early Development

If they can get the 30 odd scientists on board and meet their ambitious $5m launch target, Rocket Labs thinks they will be able to conduct around 100 launches annually.

With max payloads of around 110kg they won’t be taking over the global market just yet but we think it is great to have such an innovative company so close to our shores and Australia should wake up and start innovating their own space programs.

Stay Curious – C.Costigan


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