Rocket Lab unveils its new big rocket, Neutron

Capitalism in space: In a video released today, Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck provided the major design details for the company’s new larger rocket, Neutron, planned for launch it appears sometime in the next two years.

I have embedded the video below the fold. The rocket has these innovations:

  • The landing legs do not deploy, but are permanently mounted around a relatively wide rocket base.
  • The fairings never release. They open like a clamshell to allow the upper stage and payload to exit as a unit, and then close and return with the first stage.
  • The rocket body will be made from carbon fiber, which Beck claims Rocket Lab can manufacture fast.
  • The first stage will always return to the launch site rather than land on a barge in the ocean.
  • The rocket’s engine, dubbed Archimedes, is expected to do first static tests in ’22.

It appears Beck is specifically disagreeing with some of SpaceX’s approach with this design, using carbon fiber instead of metal, and making the engine simple without pushing its power limits too hard.
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