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Electron


Small liquid fuel (LOX) rocket developed by Rocket Lab (or RocketLab), a New Zealand / US company.

Structure is 20m length and 1.2m diameter in carbon-composite. First stage has 146.6 kN thrust. Can carry 225 kg in LEO and 100 kg in sun-synchronous 500km orbit.

Launch site was initially located in Onenui Station, North Island in New Zealand. In 2020 it will also launch from Wallops Island, VA, USA

Rocket Lab began development on the world's first 3D printed, electric turbo-pump fed engine in 2013. Rutherford engines are used as both a first stage and as a second stage engine, with sea level versions on Electron's first stage producing 24 kN (5,500 lbf) of thrust and has a specific impulse of 311 s (3.05 km/s), while the vacuum optimised version operating on Electron's second stage produces a max thrust of 24 kN (5,500 lbf) of thrust and has a specific impulse of 343 s (3.36 km/s). There are nine Rutherford engines on Electron's first stage and a single vacuum optimised version on the second stage. Rutherford engines are manufactured at Rocket Lab's headquarters in Huntington Beach, California, USA. They are shipped to Rocket Lab's New Zealand facilities for testing before integration with the Electron launch vehicle and eventual launch from Rocket Lab's private orbital launch facility, Launch Complex-1, on the Mahia Peninsula.

The company has a plan to reuse the first stage. That would require to recover the first stage in the ocean at first and later to capture it in mid-air by helicopter.

The rocket was certified by NASA as Category 1 in March 2020.

In mid-2020 the performance of the rocket was enhanced to 300 kg in LEO and 200 kg in 500 km SSO.

Launch cost: less than $5 million

Electron launches


# Launch id Payload Launch Date Site Type Status/Comment (orbit in perigee x apogee x inclination x period)
1 n/a   25 May 2017   didn't reach orbit
2 18010 A: Dove Pioneer
C: Lemur 2-Marshall
E: Lemur-Tallhamn-ATC
F: Humanity Star
21 Jan 2018 at 01:45 UT   A third stage fired to deliver the two Lemur in a circular 500km orbit
488 x 529 km x 82.9°
3 18088 A: Cicero 10
C: Nabeo 1 drag sail attached to kick stage
D: Irvine 1
E: Proxima 1
F: Lemur 2 Zupanski
G: Proxima 2
H: Lemur 2 Chanusiak
11 Nov 2018 at 03:50 UT   495 x 516 km x 85°
4 18104 A: Aerocube 11A (Tomsat R3)
B: Shields
D: STF
E: Albus
F: Ceres
G: Chomptt
H: Polysat CP11 (ISX)
J: Davinci
K: Cubesail
L: NMTsat
M: Goergen
N: Aerocube 11B (Tomsat Eaglescout)
P: Rsat P
16 Dec 2018 at 06:33 UT   total payload mass: 78 kg
5 19016 R3D2 28 Mar 2019 at 23:27 UT   410 x 428 km x 39.5°
6 19026 A: Afotec 1
B: Sparc 1
E: Harbinger
5 May 2019 at 06:00 UT   494 x 510 km x 40°
7 19037 A: Painani
B: Prometheus 2-9
C: BlackSky Global 3
E: Acrux 1
F: Spacebee 9
G: Spacebee 8
K: Prometheus 2-7
29 Jun 2019 at 04:30 UT   450km circular orbit
80 kg total payload
8 19054 A: BRO 1
B: BlackSky Global 4
C and D: Pearl White 1 and 2
19 Aug 2019 at 12:12 UT    
9 19069 Palisade 17 Oct 2019 at 01:22 UT    
10 19084 A: ALE 2
D: Noor 1A
E: Noor 1B
F: Fossasat 1
G: TRSI
H: ATL 1
J: SMOG-P
6 Dec 2019 at 08:18 UT   350 x 400 km x 97°
11 20007 USA 294 31 Jan 2020 at 02:56 UT    
12 20037 USA 301-303
D: Andesite
E: M2 Pathfinder
13 Jun 2020 at 05:12 UT    
13 n/a CE SAT 1B
Faraday 1
Flock 4e 1 to 5
4 Jul 2020 at 21:19 UT   second stage failure, 4 minutes into launch
Notes: Launch from Onenui Station, New Zealand and W for Wallops Island


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