Quite a few companies are looking to launch projects in space over the next few years. Rocket Labs is one of those companies, and they aim to launch the world’s first orbital rocket from a privately-owned facility. Test firing actual launches is not that far off anymore. If all things go according to plan, the company will offer commercial operations in the coming years.
Commercial Orbital Spaceflight is Coming Soon
It is quite interesting to take note of all of these commercial spaceflight ventures in existence right now. SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are making a lot of media headlines due to their strong focus on spaceflight. However, one should not discount Rocket Labs either, as the company may be one of the first to offer commercial orbital space flights in the very near future. That will only be possible if their testing goes according to plan, though.
To be more specific, Rocket Labs will soon commence the test launching of their orbital rockets. The first test launch is scheduled to take place on May 21st, although that date marks a ten-day attempt window to successfully experiment with test launches. It is not unlikely several of these attempts will be aborted, though, as there is no reason to take unnecessary risks either. The primary objective is to run some tests and see how things are evolving.
It is worth mentioning the company has a privately-owned launch facility where they can conduct these tests. The facility is based on North Island, which is a part of New Zealand. All of the test launches will take place from this location, and it is believed future commercial operations will be launched from this facility as well. That is, assuming those will ever take place.
Although it would be great to see the company successfully launch a rocket during this 10-day window, it is not expected that will take place. Should things turn out to allow for a successful test, we may see some action, although collecting data remains the top priority at all times. Rocket Labs wants to ensure actual launches go off without a hitch, whereas this testing phase should hopefully produce some issues for the engineers to solve.
What is rather interesting to note is how the company already acquired its first paying customer for orbital spaceflight in the future. Although the company had plans to conduct its first commercial flight in 2016, those plans had to be pushed back. This type of delay is not uncommon either, though.
The bigger question is what Rocket Labs aims to do in the future. Commercial orbital spaceflight can be used for many different purposes other than putting people in space. Satellite operators could benefit from the affordable pricing provided by Rocket Labs, that much is evident. More competition in this market will push prices down, which is something no one will openly object to right now.
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