The competition heats up: The new launch company Rocket Lab has announced that it expects the inaugural launch of its Electron rocket to take place sometime in the middle of this year.
The company announced March 22 that it has completed qualification tests of the Rutherford engine, allowing it to be used in flights of the Electron vehicle. A video released by the company showed the engine firing on a test stand for more than two and a half minutes.
The first launch is planned for the middle of this year, company spokeswoman Catherine Moreau-Hammond said March 23, with the overall flight test program running through the second half of the year. Those launches are planned from a site the company is developing on New Zealand’s North Island.
This company is in direct competition with Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne, and like everyone will likely be in operation first, beating Branson’s company despite starting almost a decade later.