US spaceflight startup Rocket Lab is rescheduling its first commercial rocket launch once again. The company tried to get this flight off the ground twice this year, but weird behavior on Rocket Lab’s launch vehicle forced the company to stand down from both launch attempts. Now, changes have been made to the rocket to avoid this problem, and the company says it’s ready to try again later this November. In fact, the company hopes to do two back-to-back missions just weeks apart before the end of 2018. The first commercial flight, dubbed It’s Business Time, will be followed by one for NASA in December. The two missions will take off from Rocket Lab’s private launch facility in New Zealand, called Launch Complex 1. And if both flights go up as planned, it will be the fastest turnaround yet for Rocket Lab, which has only conducted two test flights so far, which were about eight months apart. Rocket Lab’s primary vehicle is the Electron, a 55-foot-high rocket that can carry payloads weighing between 330 and 500 pounds to low Earth orbit. It’s a small range compared to the capabilities of other major launch providers like SpaceX, which can carry tens of thousands of pounds into orbit. That’s because Rocket Lab is solely focused on launching small satellites. Manufacturing small space probes has skyrocketed over the last decade, and Rocket Lab says it already has a full slate of customers eager to ride on the Electron vehicle. The company concluded testing of… [Read full story]
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