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SMC Alert: Rocket Lab successful launch

SMC Alert: Rocket Lab successful launch and payload deployment - Expert reaction

Rocket Lab successfully launched its Electron rocket and deployed satellites into orbit this afternoon, a milestone for the company and New Zealand's fledgling private space industry.

The SMC rounded up reaction from space and rocket experts. Feel free to use the comments below in your reports, or contact the experts directly to follow up for interviews.

Dr George Sowers, Independent consultant, former Chief Scientist and Vice-President of United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, comments:

"Very nice launch. My heartiest congratulations to the Rocket Labs team. And I welcome New Zealand to the short list of countries with a successful launch system.

"After 30 years in the launch industry with hundreds of launches, each one is still a thrill. And I must say, the geographic setting of the launch pad is the most scenic in the world. The obvious excitement of the team is evidence of the huge amount of work and perseverance required to get into space.

"My personal feeling were similar when my rocket, the Atlas V, made its 75th successful launch yesterday (with no failures)."


Kris Walsh, Former project manager at United Launch Alliance and former director of all NASA launch programmes for Boeing, comments:

"It was wonderful to see such a smooth countdown, and a nominal launch. When the web-cast shutdown, Electron Still Testing made orbit. I was unable to discern from the webcast if one or all three satellites were inserted into orbit. It was

"This success should instill confidence in Rocket Lab's customers, starting a busy 2018 launch schedule. The industry will be watching Rocket Lab's ability to meet schedule, but this is a milestone for Rocket Lab."


Professor Richard Easther, Professor of Physics (and Head of Department) at the University of Auckland, comments:

"This is a red-letter day for New Zealand; that was a flawless launch and a huge milestone for RocketLab. To put this in perspective, we are now one of just a dozen countries to have successfully built and deployed an rocket that can put satellites into orbit.

"The other countries in the club are either all world powers like the USA, Russia, China and India or smaller countries which are armed to the teeth — Israel, Iran and North Korea. So New Zealand really stands alone with a technically advanced, commercially focussed launch vehicle. And what we have seen today is really just the first chapter is what promises to be a fascinating story for the country and our technology and science sectors -- I couldn’t be more excited."

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