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The competition heats up: Rocket Lab announced Monday that their new rocket, Electron, is on schedule for its first test flights early in 2017.
Launch startup Rocket Lab says it is ready to begin test flights of its Electron launch vehicle early next year, having concluded flight qualification and acceptance of the first stage booster.
Rocket Lab announced completion of these final milestones Dec. 12, saying in a press release that the company is waiting on international launch licensing before kicking off full vehicle testing. Spokesperson Catherine Moreau-Hammond told SpaceNews the company is imminently anticipating licenses from the U.S. and New Zealand — a requirement due to its status as a U.S. company launching out of New Zealand.
It appears right now that this company is in the lead to be the first smallsat rocket company in operation. I would guess that Vector Space Systems is second.