This weekend, a small rocket company is trying to launch its first commercial mission.
It's not nearly as big a spectacle as SpaceX's powerful Falcon Heavy that drove Elon Musk's sports car out of Mars. But Rocket Labin Electron is a new kind of rocket race – a compact, inexpensive one that can launch often – which could be more important in the future as companies send smaller orbit orbit orbits.
When to start and how can I track it?
Rocket Lab continues to launch the Internet from its starting point in New Zealand.
The launch window extends for nine days, four hours a day. The first chance is on Sunday at 16.50. New Zealand time. (In the United States it is still Saturday and it is a late-night show or at 10:50 Eastern time).
What is a rocket carrying?
There are seven payloads, all small satellites. These include two Spire Global satellite tracking; a small climatic and environmental monitoring satellite for GeoOptics; a small probe, built by high school students in Irvine, CA; and a wielding sail demonstration version that would pull broken satellites off the orbit.
Why is the Electron rocket so small?
Like terrestrial technologies, the satellites are decreasing and now they can be launched in smaller rockets. Businesses and governments now also see the benefits of designing constellation of small satellites to handle the tasks that a giant, expensive satellite handled. With this approach, one satellite error can be handled by moving the remaining satellites. Replacement is also faster and cheaper.
Which other companies are building small rockets to open smaller satellites?
Small missiles have at least 150 companies, though you will probably never get out of the field.
Some of the most promising are the Virgin Orbit, initiated by Billionaire Richard Branson; and Vector Launch and Firefly Aerospace, which started SpaceX's alumni.
Two other promising companies are the Relativity Space, which shows the 3-D result of most of its rocket launcher, and Gilmour Space, located in Australia.