Rocket Lab Qualifies Second Stage of Electron Launch Vehicle

Posted on 30 April 2016

Rocket Lab announced today that it has successfully completed the qualification of the entire second stage of the Electron launch vehicle.

The second stages are running at peak performance and are set to fly during the Electron test program scheduled to run throughout the second half of 2016.

The second stage is responsible for delivering payloads of 150kg to a nominal 500km sun-synchronous orbit. The second stage uses one 5,000 lbf Rutherford Engine with an extension nozzle optimized for vacuum performance.

The stage and all of its primary components were designed, built and tested in-house at Rocket Lab by the company’s growing team of nearly 100 employees.

“We are continuing to qualify and acceptance test large vehicle systems as we approach the start of our test program,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab CEO. “The success of the innovative technologies we have been developing, including 3D printing, carbon composite structures and proprietary battery technology, are key factors in enabling Rocket Lab to offer frequent and affordable, dedicated launch opportunities.”

The Rutherford engine developed by Rocket Lab recently completed a qualification program involving over 200 hot fire tests.