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Rocket Lab successfully completes first launch from the U.S.

Using its Electron rocket, Rocket Lab yesterday placed three smallsats into orbit, launching for the first time from Wallops Island in Virginia.

The company now has three launchpads, one in Wallops and two in New Zealand. Expect its launch pace in 2023 to ramp up to, at a minimum, once per month.

The 2023 launch race:

5 China
5 SpaceX
1 Rocket Lab

In the national rankings, the U.S. leads China, 6 to 5. No one else has yet launched, though Japan plans a launch today.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.


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  • sippin_bourbon

    Is this the first private company to successfully launch from two different continents, let alone two different countries?

  • Call Me Ishmael

    Technically, I don’t think New Zealand is a continent.

  • john hare

    Zealandia is a continent like I’m a genius billionaire. You just can’t see all my hidden wealth and brains, and neither can I.

  • Richard M

    Two different landmasses? Two different countries?

    Maybe not even then. Roscosmos, after all, operated Soyuz ST from not just Russia/Kazakhstan, but also from Arianespace’s launch facilities in Korou, French Guiana. Of course, all their Korou operations are not suspended, and very unlikely to ever resume again…

  • sippin_bourbon

    You know I had never looked. I had always assumed it was close enough to be considered part of the Continent of Australia. But apparently not.

    Okay, so first private space company to launch from two countries. And from two hemispheres, then?

    Is Roscosmos really a private company? I mean the name is short for State Space Corporation.. like Arianespace, which is simply a commercial extension of ESA.

  • Edward

    New Zealand is part of what is called Oceana, which is often treated as a continent by those who believe in Oceana. New Zealand has been considered a microcontinent. I think that the point is that Rocket Lab has successfully navigated different governments in opposite sides of the planet to launch their rocket, and since they had such a long delay and Virgin Orbit had a long delay in England, it seems that governments have a difficult time coping with private companies. It is a good thing that governments are set up to serve themselves and not their citizens, otherwise they would be doing a poor job of governance.

    Soyuz has also launched from different continents, but that is a government rocket, launched by both a somewhat-private-but-mostly-government company on South America and by a couple of governments on Eurasia. It launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan — possibly the Asian part of the country — from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in European Russia, and from the Guiana Space Centre in South America. For the most part, the associated governments have gotten along, but relationships are strained at the moment.

  • Andrew_W

    New Zealand is part of Oceania: Australia, NZ and the Southern Pacific island groups. Not technically a continent but you’ll find oceanic island groups are included in the statistics of the continents that they’re geographically closest to. For example many Indian ocean islands are considered part of either Africa or Asia.

  • Concerned

    I’m becoming incontinent over this discussion.

  • sippin_bourbon

    Perhaps we should put this question on the continental shelf.

    In the meantime, I am not the only one asking about different hemispheres.

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