Rocket Lab and NASA sign Commercial Space Launch Agreement
Rocket Lab and NASA sign Commercial Space Launch Act Agreement
AUCKLAND, New Zealand. — July 31, 2015 — Rocket Lab has signed a Commercial Space Launch Act Agreement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The agreement enables Rocket Lab to use NASA resources - including personnel, facilities and equipment - for launch and reentry efforts.
Rocket Lab is considering using NASA’s launch complexes to complement Rocket Lab’s primary launch range in New Zealand.
“Rocket Lab is pleased to have the opportunity to utilise NASA facilities for those customers that may require lower inclination orbits,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab CEO.
Use of a NASA range will give Rocket Lab the ability to launch Electron to lower orbital inclinations than the company’s New Zealand range, which offers inclinations from sun-synchronous through to 45 degrees.
“While launches from New Zealand can reach inclinations that are generally ideal for small satellites, the addition of a United States launch site will allow customers to have the choice of a wider spectrum of orbital inclinations,” said Beck. “This agreement with NASA is another step in building out our launch ranges globally.”
“NASA is committed to promoting the continued evolution of the U.S. commercial space launch market,” said Jim Norman, Director of Launch Services at NASA Headquarters. “Our agreement with Rocket Lab USA, Inc to make NASA’s unique space capabilities and infrastructure available can increase commercial launch options.”
“We are pleased to be growing our relationship with NASA, as both organizations work to increase commercial opportunities in space,” said Beck.
Electron is an entirely carbon-composite vehicle that uses Rocket Lab’s Rutherford engines for its main propulsion system. Rocket Lab recently announced the Rutherford engine makes use of electric turbo-pumps and that the majority of its components are 3D printed.
Electron is 16m in length, 1.20m diameter and has a lift-off mass of 10,500 kg. The vehicle is capable of delivering payloads of up to 150 kg to a 500 km sun-synchronous orbit, which is the target range for the high growth constellation-satellite market. With a dedicated launch priced at $4.9 million Electron is the most affordable small satellite launch vehicle.
About Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab’s mission is to remove commercial barriers to space. The company was founded on the belief that small payloads require dedicated launch vehicles and a flexibility not currently offered by
traditional launch systems. Rocket Lab is a privately funded company with its major investors including Khosla Ventures, K1W1, Bessemer Venture Partners and Lockheed Martin. Founded in 2008, Rocket Lab is headquartered in Los Angeles with operations and a launch site in New Zealand.