Rocket Lab was the first private company to reach space in the southern hemisphere in 2009 with its Atea 1 suborbital sounding rocket. Following this success the company won contracts with aerospace giants Lockheed Martin, DARPA and Aeroject Rocket-dyne.
They currently have customers/orders for 30 launches ($150m) a tested engine and LV in production if the web photos are anything to go by. This is far from a paper rocket or startup with a webpage.
It's also not clear if they've tested or even designed the engine they plan to use for their orbital launch vehicle. They've launched sounding rockets, which is something, but it's not clear that they won't have to develop a whole new engine for their planned orbital launch vehicle.
The new engine, named Rutherford after the famous New Zealand scientist Ernest Rutherford, is a Lox/Kerosene regenerative cooled pump fed engine that is intended to be the future workhorse for the our orbital launcher program. The first test fires demonstrated stable performance and began the characterization phase of the engine program. A high rate of testing is underway with an average of one test fire every two days.
The engine was first test fired on December 2013.
a price is given on the web page 5 million.
One radical use I thought of for Electron 1st stage is as test vehicle for recovery development . Given it is a mini F9, with some modifications it may be able to be recovered.At a few million a piece it makes a cheap test bed for a large LV company to prove out the recovery process. Without a 2nd stage and payload it should have the enough performance to do a boost back and landing.
Is the KeroLox engine using a turbo pump? Not too much info on the web site.
Quote from: TrevorMonty on 07/30/2014 03:32 AMOne radical use I thought of for Electron 1st stage is as test vehicle for recovery development . Given it is a mini F9, with some modifications it may be able to be recovered.At a few million a piece it makes a cheap test bed for a large LV company to prove out the recovery process. Without a 2nd stage and payload it should have the enough performance to do a boost back and landing.Don't think that idea is practical. As it is, the nominal maximum payload is only 100 kg. Reserving launch mass for recovery propellants and/or recovery mechanisms will result in very little payload.
You missed to point Zed, read it again.
A single Rutherford engine pumps rocket-grade kerosene and liquid oxygen from the low pressure tanks into the combustion chamber producing 13.3 kilonewtons of thrust at lift-off. The regeneratively cooled engine passes the kerosene through channels in the chamber walls, allowing Rutherford to run at temperatures far beyond its melting point and at a significantly higher efficiency.Electronís propulsion workhorse is the Rutherford rocket engine. Rutherford is the embodiment of power and efficiency; it is the key driver behind Rocket Labís ability to provide high-frequency, low-cost launches. Electron uses two variants of the Rutherford engine, a sea level and a vacuum engine. The vacuum variant differs only in nozzle shape, which is tailored to suit the vacuum conditions outside Earthís atmosphere. The duplicate engine design for both stages makes Electron highly optimized for mass production.With nine Rutherford engines on the first stage, Electron can sustain a complete engine loss before launch and still complete its mission, making it one of few launch vehicles with such capability.The engine is named after the famous New Zealand born physicist Ernest Rutherford.