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Commercial and US Government Launch Vehicles => Rocket Lab => Topic started by: HMXHMX on 07/29/2014 04:55 AM

Title: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: HMXHMX on 07/29/2014 04:55 AM
Backed by Khosla Ventures of Silicon Valley, but located in New Zealand (with a US office in LA).

http://www.rocketlabusa.com

Press release:

http://www.rocketlabusa.com/rocket-lab-usa-poised-to-change-the-space-industry/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 07/29/2014 05:16 AM
Quote
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.

This tickled my memory. Various people were saying at the time (2009) that they had zero evidence that it reached space. I defending them by saying that they didn't claim it did, merely that it was about the right size to. As far as I'm aware they never recovered anything or got any data back from the vehicle.

Then there was a 2010 article claiming they had a research grant (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10672754) from the US Office of Naval Research, and they also make the 100 km claim for Atea 1. The project page for their Viscous Liquid Monopropellant (http://www.rocketlabusa.com/about-us/recent-projects/vlm/) also claims DARPA funding, and there's a 2012 video of a test flight.

So there's certainly a capability there, but it's pretty far away from orbit, I'd say. Good luck to 'em.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/29/2014 06:45 AM
Cool a local launch provider. Could find out where they launch but their Electron LV is a mini me F9. 1x 2nd stage engine and 9x 1st stage engines. If it works for SpaceX why not. No mention of reusability but with this configuration who knows.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: gosnold on 07/29/2014 11:25 AM
The target payload is 110kg. Assuming that's for expendable mode, it will be very close to 0 (most likely negative) in a reusable mode.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 07/29/2014 11:47 AM
The word "reusable" doesn't appear anywhere on the Rocketlab website.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 07/29/2014 01:48 PM
The web page talks about being innovative, but doesn't mention anything innovative about their approach.  It seems to me they're somewhere behind Firefly and ahead of ARCA on the plausibility scale for groups trying to make it in the ultra-light-weight orbital launch business.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/29/2014 03:28 PM
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.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 07/29/2014 04:28 PM
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.

They used the word "commitment" with respect to those 30 launches.  It's far from clear how firm that commitment is.  Also, launch companies often give steep discounts to early customers, so I don't think we can take $150 million as a given.  No list of customers was given.  It could be that all 30 launch commitments are from a start-up that hopes to launch a fleet of small satellites but does not yet itself have the funding to do so.

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.

It's also not clear what their development schedule is, how much funding they think they need to reach operational status, and how much funding they currently have.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Noack78 on 07/29/2014 05:17 PM
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 engine was first test fired on December 2013. From their website (http://www.rocketlabusa.com/rutherford-engine-test-fire/):

Quote
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.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 07/29/2014 05:22 PM
The engine was first test fired on December 2013.

Ah, thanks, I missed that.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/29/2014 05:29 PM
The engine was tested fired in Dec 13. If the last 7 months of development was not going to plan I'd doubt we would have seen today's press release that started this thread.

http://www.rocketlabusa.com/updates/

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 07/29/2014 09:59 PM
I wouldn't be surprised if their first launch attempt slipped into 2016.

I would be very surprised if their first launch attempt reached orbit.

It's great that they're trying.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: hop on 07/30/2014 02:55 AM
a price is given on the web page 5 million.
I wonder if the $5 million / launch number assumes the 100 launches / year item just below it...
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/30/2014 03:32 AM
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.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Zed_Noir on 07/30/2014 03:34 AM
Is the KeroLox engine using a turbo pump? Not too much info on the web site.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Zed_Noir on 07/30/2014 03:41 AM
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.

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.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 07/30/2014 03:44 AM
Is the KeroLox engine using a turbo pump? Not too much info on the web site.

It certainly looks like one.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/30/2014 03:45 AM
You missed to point Zed, read it again.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Zed_Noir on 07/30/2014 04:13 AM
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.

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.
I see your point. But it is still not practical. You will eventually need a full scale test vehicle. Think it is easier to adopt a full size large vehicle for trials then to extrapolate what a large vehicle will do from a sub-scale vehicle's performance IMO.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Davidthefat on 07/30/2014 08:15 AM
Yea... I am not convinced. Why did they opt to gimbal their engines? Because SpaceX does it? My hunch tells me that they can save a lot of weight by opting to do vector control with differential throttling instead. Get rid of the hydraulic system and piping. At least just for the first stage.

The picture clearly shows a turbopump exhaust on each engine. Why not save that weight and do what the Russians do? Surely they don't need a turbopump for each chamber. Yea, they are touting the engine out capability.

http://www.rocketlabusa.com/about-us/propulsion/rutherford/

Quote
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.
Electron’s propulsion workhorse is the Rutherford rocket engine. Rutherford is the embodiment of power and efficiency; it is the key driver behind Rocket Lab’s 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 Earth’s 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.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: IslandPlaya on 07/30/2014 01:59 PM
Yea... I am not convinced. Why did they opt to gimbal their engines? Because SpaceX does it? My hunch tells me that they can save a lot of weight by opting to do vector control with differential throttling instead. Get rid of the hydraulic system and piping. At least just for the first stage.

The picture clearly shows a turbopump exhaust on each engine. Why not save that weight and do what the Russians do? Surely they don't need a turbopump for each chamber. Yea, they are touting the engine out capability.

http://www.rocketlabusa.com/about-us/propulsion/rutherford/

Quote
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.
Electron’s propulsion workhorse is the Rutherford rocket engine. Rutherford is the embodiment of power and efficiency; it is the key driver behind Rocket Lab’s 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 Earth’s 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.
I don't think differential throttling has the response time to maintain control in this case.
Also it would break the engine out capability.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: edkyle99 on 07/30/2014 09:37 PM
The web page talks about being innovative, but doesn't mention anything innovative about their approach.  It seems to me they're somewhere behind Firefly and ahead of ARCA on the plausibility scale for groups trying to make it in the ultra-light-weight orbital launch business.
No one has yet launched an all-composite liquid fueled launch vehicle to orbit.  There's the innovation.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: hop on 07/31/2014 02:10 AM
Their recent projects section mentions the "Ātea 1" sounding rocket: http://www.rocketlabusa.com/about-us/recent-projects/atea-1/
Quote
Ātea-1 is a two-stage sub-orbital vehicle capable of carrying payloads of 2 kg up to 150 km altitude. This launch vehicle is able to provide the international science community with a quick-response, mobile launch solution, with a focus on flexibility and rapid turnaround.
Does anyone know if it has flown since the test flight in 2009?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 07/31/2014 02:18 AM
Ātea hasn't. They moved on to their VLM work (http://www.rocketlabusa.com/category/rocket-lab-news/vlm/), and now Electron.

I'm listening to this podcast (http://www.nztechpodcast.com/audio/nztechpodcast190.mp3) (RocketLab section starts about half way through). Peter Beck talks about launching weekly / 50 launches per year. When asked about reusability he says "we'll try to reuse whatever we can, it'd be stupid not to". Clearly not the critical path right now.

Here's some pictures from the VIP event (http://www.rocketlabusa.com/rocket-lab-unveils-electron-photos-from-the-vip-event/). Not much to see.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Zed_Noir on 07/31/2014 05:04 AM
Interesting photo on the scale of the Rutherford engine from Rocket Lab press photo on Doug Messier's Parabolic web site. link (http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/07/30/rocket-lab-funding-sources/#more-53025) That is Peter Beck founder & CEO of Rocket Lab standing next to the Electron core, reminisce of Elon Musk next to his Falcon 1 photo.

Question. If the Electron core is 1 m diameter, can anyone estimate the nozzle diameter of the Rutherford engine? I think it about 18 cm from looking at the photo.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/31/2014 05:59 AM
The podcast was a good find.

We now know primary launch site is NZ and it is designed for our windy conditions. I' m guessing the launch site will be in northland as it's airspace has low air traffic and is only a few hours drive from factory. Trucking a few tonnes of LOX up country shouldn' t be a problem.

There is no current serious competition in this LV category.

At present cubesats have to go where ever the primary payload is going. With Electron's 3rd stage they can place each individual cubesat exactly.  The cubesat will also have more options for its own propulsion system/ fuel.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 07/31/2014 06:50 AM
110 kg is a "small sat", not a cubesat.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Llian Rhydderch on 07/31/2014 06:58 AM
110 kg is a "small sat", not a cubesat.

Agreed.  It's at least 10x a nanosat, which is about what most 1U to 3U cubesats mass out at.

I think 110 kg may be used to be called a minisat (larger than microsat at 10-100 kg), but I'm not sure those names ever caught on, except for nanosat (1-10 kg).
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: fatjohn1408 on 07/31/2014 08:27 AM
So did the Atea 2 project die then?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/31/2014 09:21 AM
You are right in that a single 110kg satellite is called a small sat, but I'm picking the majority of its payloads will be launches of multiple cubesats using a dispenser.

These are two direct competitors, there may be more.
Virgin's launcher is also rated at 100kg to Sun synchronous LEO and is priced at < $10m.

Firefly alpha is in slightly different class of 400kg LEO, price is $8m.

http://www.virgingalactic.com/launcherOne/performance-and-specification/

http://www.fireflyspace.com/vehicles/firefly-a
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 07/31/2014 10:01 AM
So did the Atea 2 project die then?

I don't remember hearing anything about it. Source?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: xanmarus on 07/31/2014 10:05 AM
Interesting photo on the scale of the Rutherford engine from Rocket Lab press photo on Doug Messier's Parabolic web site. That is Peter Beck founder & CEO of Rocket Lab standing next to the Electron core, reminisce of Elon Musk next to his Falcon 1 photo.
I'm wondering, is Rutherford stage combustion engine? I don't see any turbine exhaust nozzle on that picture.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 07/31/2014 11:46 AM
Interesting photo on the scale of the Rutherford engine from Rocket Lab press photo on Doug Messier's Parabolic web site. That is Peter Beck founder & CEO of Rocket Lab standing next to the Electron core, reminisce of Elon Musk next to his Falcon 1 photo.
I'm wondering, is Rutherford stage combustion engine? I don't see any turbine exhaust nozzle on that picture.

Kerolox staged combustion? Pretty unlikely.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: baldusi on 07/31/2014 01:29 PM
Interesting photo on the scale of the Rutherford engine from Rocket Lab press photo on Doug Messier's Parabolic web site. link (http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/07/30/rocket-lab-funding-sources/#more-53025) That is Peter Beck founder & CEO of Rocket Lab standing next to the Electron core, reminisce of Elon Musk next to his Falcon 1 photo.

Question. If the Electron core is 1 m diameter, can anyone estimate the nozzle diameter of the Rutherford engine? I think it about 18 cm from looking at the photo.
No downcomers, no hold downs, no connectors. It just seems like an engineering article. There's something that just seems too plain. Actual flight hardware has access doors, connectors for fluids, electricity and communications, mechanical hold downs, a couple of tubes for data  wires and pressurization gases, etc.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: dchill on 07/31/2014 03:12 PM
We now know primary launch site is NZ and it is designed for our windy conditions. I' m guessing the launch site will be in northland as it's airspace has low air traffic and is only a few hours drive from factory. Trucking a few tonnes of LOX up country shouldn' t be a problem.

Looks like one of the Seminar notices on the GNC system is talking about a Birdling's Flat location:
<<https://www.facebook.com/DepartmentOfElectricalAndComputerEngineering/posts/505832642813622 (https://www.facebook.com/DepartmentOfElectricalAndComputerEngineering/posts/505832642813622)>>
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Proponent on 07/31/2014 06:34 PM
If I were going to name a Kiwi rocket engine, I think I'd call it Pickering (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Hayward_Pickering).
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/31/2014 06:58 PM
If I were going to name a Kiwi rocket engine, I think I'd call it Pickering (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Hayward_Pickering).

Not a very sexy name for a rocket but they may name a future engine after him.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: strangequark on 07/31/2014 07:10 PM
I'm wondering, is Rutherford stage combustion engine? I don't see any turbine exhaust nozzle on that picture.

Like others have said, probably a mockup. Can't discount expander either. We've been finicky about it, but it can be done with LOX, or with third fluid cooling. Actually, most of the reason RP-1 exists is for its use as a coolant. Use something else for cooling, and you could use a far more mundane kerosene.

Looks like the chamber is DMLS-made, from their closeup photo (http://www.rocketlabusa.com/about-us/propulsion/rutherford/). That contour is bizarre too, curious what's going on there. Maybe it's just the volute for the cooling jacket and the closeup makes it looks weird?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Zed_Noir on 07/31/2014 11:51 PM
Interesting photo on the scale of the Rutherford engine from Rocket Lab press photo on Doug Messier's Parabolic web site. That is Peter Beck founder & CEO of Rocket Lab standing next to the Electron core, reminisce of Elon Musk next to his Falcon 1 photo.
I'm wondering, is Rutherford stage combustion engine? I don't see any turbine exhaust nozzle on that picture.
I read somewhere on their site the Rutherford got channel wall on the nozzle for kerosene flow for cooling. Maybe for turbine exhaust as well. Doubt the Rutherford is a stage combustion engine, don't think there is space above the combustion chambers for SC plumbing for 9 engines.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Zed_Noir on 07/31/2014 11:51 PM
Interesting photo on the scale of the Rutherford engine from Rocket Lab press photo on Doug Messier's Parabolic web site. link (http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/07/30/rocket-lab-funding-sources/#more-53025) That is Peter Beck founder & CEO of Rocket Lab standing next to the Electron core, reminisce of Elon Musk next to his Falcon 1 photo.

Question. If the Electron core is 1 m diameter, can anyone estimate the nozzle diameter of the Rutherford engine? I think it about 18 cm from looking at the photo.
No downcomers, no hold downs, no connectors. It just seems like an engineering article. There's something that just seems too plain. Actual flight hardware has access doors, connectors for fluids, electricity and communications, mechanical hold downs, a couple of tubes for data  wires and pressurization gases, etc.
It is a composite structure. Maybe all the connections are on the side away from the camera view. After all this is a publicity photo. It could also be a mock-up.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/01/2014 12:44 AM
Generation Orbit Launch Services is another up an coming small sat launcher. At 50kg it is lighter again.

http://www.generationorbit.com/golauncher2.html
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: fregate on 08/01/2014 06:53 AM
It might be a tipping point for Australia to set up Commonwealth Space Agency and space program after all. C'mon Kiwi, c'mon!
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: DJPledger on 08/01/2014 07:11 AM
Interesting photo on the scale of the Rutherford engine from Rocket Lab press photo on Doug Messier's Parabolic web site. That is Peter Beck founder & CEO of Rocket Lab standing next to the Electron core, reminisce of Elon Musk next to his Falcon 1 photo.
I'm wondering, is Rutherford stage combustion engine? I don't see any turbine exhaust nozzle on that picture.
Rutherford may have a H2O2 powered gas generator to power it's turbopump. If you look closely at the photo of a test firing of Rutherford on Rocket Lab's website you can see what looks like a cloud of steam in the top of the test stand. This steam could well be from the decomposition of H2O2 driving the pump.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/01/2014 08:17 AM
It might be a tipping point for Australia to set up Commonwealth Space Agency and space program after all. C'mon Kiwi, c'mon!
Robert Meurer from this space show mention that a few countries have created space agencies in last year. NZ needs to catch up especially as we will soon have a LV capable of putting a man space, even if it is a one way trip.

We are definitely at beginning of a new space age, 45 years after moon landing things are finally start to happen.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 08/01/2014 09:15 AM
Interesting photo on the scale of the Rutherford engine from Rocket Lab press photo on Doug Messier's Parabolic web site. link (http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/07/30/rocket-lab-funding-sources/#more-53025) That is Peter Beck founder & CEO of Rocket Lab standing next to the Electron core, reminisce of Elon Musk next to his Falcon 1 photo.

Question. If the Electron core is 1 m diameter, can anyone estimate the nozzle diameter of the Rutherford engine? I think it about 18 cm from looking at the photo.
No downcomers, no hold downs, no connectors. It just seems like an engineering article. There's something that just seems too plain. Actual flight hardware has access doors, connectors for fluids, electricity and communications, mechanical hold downs, a couple of tubes for data  wires and pressurization gases, etc.
It is a composite structure. Maybe all the connections are on the side away from the camera view. After all this is a publicity photo. It could also be a mock-up.

Surely you're not suggesting that the hold-downs are only on one side.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Proponent on 08/01/2014 11:15 AM
Doubt the Rutherford is a stage combustion engine, don't think there is space above the combustion chambers for SC plumbing for 9 engines.

On top of that, the thrust density is pretty low -- about 411 kN/m2 at sea level, based on a nozzle exit diameter of 0.2 m as eyeballed from the photo above (and consistent with the quoted difference in sea-level and maximum, presumably vacuum, thrusts).  That suggests a relatively low chamber pressure, which in turn lies outside the regime in which staged combustion really shines.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Proponent on 08/01/2014 11:26 AM
Looks like the chamber is DMLS-made....

Pardon my ignorance, but what is DMLS?

EDIT:  Corrected quote.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Proponent on 08/01/2014 11:37 AM
So we have three recently-proposed launch vehicles, Falcon 9, Firefly and Electron, each of which has a single lox-hydrocarbon engine on the second stage and a large cluster of sea-level versions of the same engine on the first stage.  It seems to be the new paradigm.  Though you could argue it goes all the way back to the Saturn B designs circa 1960 -- eight H-1s for the first stage and a small cluster of vacuum-optimised H-1s for the second stage.

Of course, Electron differs in having a third stage.  Do we know anything about it?  Might it be solid?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: zt on 08/01/2014 12:54 PM
Looks like the chamber is DMLS-made space age, 45 years after moon landing things are finally start to happen.

Pardon my ignorance, but what is DMLS?

I think it's Direct Metal Laser Sintering, a technique for 3D printing out of metal.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/01/2014 02:41 PM
So we have three recently-proposed launch vehicles, Falcon 9, Firefly and Electron, each of which has a single lox-hydrocarbon engine on the second stage and a large cluster of sea-level versions of the same engine on the first stage.  It seems to be the new paradigm.  Though you could argue it goes all the way back to the Saturn B designs circa 1960 -- eight H-1s for the first stage and a small cluster of vacuum-optimised H-1s for the second stage.

Of course, Electron differs in having a third stage.  Do we know anything about it?  Might it be solid?
The vehicle description states solid propellant 3rd stage. "Solid" could be bit misleading in this case if it uses VLM.see link.

http://www.rocketlabusa.com/about-us/propulsion/high-density-monopropellant/

http://www.google.com/patents/US20120234196

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/01/2014 02:43 PM
More info on their technology and history.

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/08/01/rocket-labs-history/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: strangequark on 08/01/2014 05:59 PM
Looks like the chamber is DMLS-made space age, 45 years after moon landing things are finally start to happen.

Pardon my ignorance, but what is DMLS?

As has been said, Direct Metal Laser Sintering. The surface finish is fairly characteristic. So, he's probably printing the chamber, including cooling passages, as a single piece. Possibly injector too? Though I worry about tolerances in that case. Also, I think you conflated my quote with someone else's. I didn't say that "45 years" bit.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Proponent on 08/01/2014 06:25 PM
Thanks.  And sorry -- I've corrected my post.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Zed_Noir on 08/01/2014 07:14 PM
Interesting photo on the scale of the Rutherford engine from Rocket Lab press photo on Doug Messier's Parabolic web site. link (http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/07/30/rocket-lab-funding-sources/#more-53025) That is Peter Beck founder & CEO of Rocket Lab standing next to the Electron core, reminisce of Elon Musk next to his Falcon 1 photo.

Question. If the Electron core is 1 m diameter, can anyone estimate the nozzle diameter of the Rutherford engine? I think it about 18 cm from looking at the photo.
No downcomers, no hold downs, no connectors. It just seems like an engineering article. There's something that just seems too plain. Actual flight hardware has access doors, connectors for fluids, electricity and communications, mechanical hold downs, a couple of tubes for data  wires and pressurization gases, etc.
It is a composite structure. Maybe all the connections are on the side away from the camera view. After all this is a publicity photo. It could also be a mock-up.

Surely you're not suggesting that the hold-downs are only on one side.

Didn't say anything about hold-downs, just connectors.  ::)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: WindnWar on 08/01/2014 07:55 PM
More info on their technology and history.

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/08/01/rocket-labs-history/

The info on the bottom is interesting but the video just comes across as silly. He's comparing multi-billion dollar launch vehicles capable of tremendous lift capability to a rocket that only lifts 110 kilo's. At $5 million that is not exactly cheap for multiple sat constellations. Makes more sense to do what Orbcomm just did or Iridium will do, plus neither of those small sats are small enough to fit on this rocket. This really only makes sense for the few things you would send up a single one and it needs to be in an orbit it can't reach as a secondary.

Interesting but I fear its just too small for the price. 

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Zed_Noir on 08/01/2014 08:20 PM
More info on their technology and history.

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/08/01/rocket-labs-history/

The info on the bottom is interesting but the video just comes across as silly. He's comparing multi-billion dollar launch vehicles capable of tremendous lift capability to a rocket that only lifts 110 kilo's. At $5 million that is not exactly cheap for multiple sat constellations. Makes more sense to do what Orbcomm just did or Iridium will do, plus neither of those small sats are small enough to fit on this rocket. This really only makes sense for the few things you would send up a single one and it needs to be in an orbit it can't reach as a secondary.

Interesting but I fear its just too small for the price.
My speculation. There might be some sort of a Heavy version of the Electron in the future. Perhaps even a 5 or 7 core super Heavy version.  ;D
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 08/01/2014 08:48 PM
More info on their technology and history.

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/08/01/rocket-labs-history/

The info on the bottom is interesting but the video just comes across as silly. He's comparing multi-billion dollar launch vehicles capable of tremendous lift capability to a rocket that only lifts 110 kilo's. At $5 million that is not exactly cheap for multiple sat constellations. Makes more sense to do what Orbcomm just did or Iridium will do, plus neither of those small sats are small enough to fit on this rocket. This really only makes sense for the few things you would send up a single one and it needs to be in an orbit it can't reach as a secondary.

Interesting but I fear its just too small for the price.
My speculation. There might be some sort of a Heavy version of the Electron in the future. Perhaps even a 5 or 7 core super Heavy version.  ;D

Let's assume adding a core costs half the $5 million price of a single-core launch.  That 7-core super-heavy now costs $20 million -- to launch perhaps 500 kg of payload to LEO.  That's even less compelling than the single-core version.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/02/2014 12:00 AM
Another plus to their choice of LV architecture.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35319.msg1237334.msg#1237334
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: go4mars on 08/02/2014 03:32 AM
My speculation. There might be some sort of a Heavy version of the Electron in the future. Perhaps even a 5 or 7 core super Heavy version.
I wondered the same.  The otrag unit of the teens?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Llian Rhydderch on 08/03/2014 04:55 AM
Looks like the chamber is DMLS-made space age, 45 years after moon landing things are finally start to happen.

Pardon my ignorance, but what is DMLS?

I think it's Direct Metal Laser Sintering, a technique for 3D printing out of metal.

That is right.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_metal_laser_sintering (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_metal_laser_sintering)

and this:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing#Spaceflight (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing#Spaceflight) 

SpaceX is mentioned in both; but better/more in the second of the two.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Comga on 08/03/2014 03:42 PM
My speculation. There might be some sort of a Heavy version of the Electron in the future. Perhaps even a 5 or 7 core super Heavy version.
I wondered the same.  The otrag unit of the teens?

"Sometimes a cigar is just a good smoke" (dubious authorship)

And perhaps he means what he says: This is a launcher for 110 kg payloads.

This already fights dis-economies of scale.  Each engine probably attaches with the same number of bolts and hydraulic lines as a Merlin.  The idea of seven times nine engines for a smallsat launcher strains credibility.

There are any number of efforts to build smallsat launchers.  People do pursue this potential market.

Do we have a thread that lists (hopefully without tens of pages of opinions) a recent history of rocket development programs of this type?  Something with links to company initial announcements, test flights, major successes or failures, and the occasional admission of failure?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 08/03/2014 04:52 PM
There are any number of efforts to build smallsat launchers.  People do pursue this potential market.

They pursue it because they really, really want to build rockets and they can't afford to even attempt anything bigger.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Comga on 08/03/2014 08:28 PM
There are any number of efforts to build smallsat launchers.  People do pursue this potential market.

They pursue it because they really, really want to build rockets and they can't afford to even attempt anything bigger.

DARPA can't afford anything larger?
What you say may be true for most of the efforts but that doesn't prove or disprove anything.
I think it more likely that this effort is sincere in going for the stated target.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 08/03/2014 08:45 PM
There are any number of efforts to build smallsat launchers.  People do pursue this potential market.

They pursue it because they really, really want to build rockets and they can't afford to even attempt anything bigger.

DARPA can't afford anything larger?

You said, "People do pursue this potential market."  That implies "people" refers to the people setting up companies like RocketLab and Firefly.  So it is those people I was referring to as not being able to afford anything bigger.

I'm not sure how you made the leap from there to DARPA.  But it also does happen that DARPA can't afford a program to develop a whole new launcher for large satellites, which is why they only have a program to develop a small satellite launcher.

What you say may be true for most of the efforts but that doesn't prove or disprove anything.
I think it more likely that this effort is sincere in going for the stated target.

I was replying to your quote that people do pursue this market, which in turn was a reply to speculation by others that RocketLab might plan to evolve to larger launchers in the future.  Your reply implied you thought that people target the small satellite market for its own sake because it was an attractive market in and of itself.

So, the point of my reply was that I think it likely that the only reason most companies target the small satellite market is that it is all they can afford.  It seems reasonable that most would target the markets for larger payloads if they could, and if they are successful building a small launcher, they might gain access to the resources that would let them target the larger satellite market.

So, I think speculation that RocketLab might expand to larger payloads is completely reasonable.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/03/2014 10:07 PM
The F9 class LV  market is well supported, very expensive to enter and has limited payloads.

The cubesat market is not very supported by dedicated launches, is lot less expensive to enter. The payload market is growing rapidly.

Rocketlab' s forecast of 30+ ($150m) a year is not small change.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 08/04/2014 06:11 AM
The F9 class LV  market is well supported, very expensive to enter and has limited payloads.

The cubesat market is not very supported by dedicated launches, is lot less expensive to enter. The payload market is growing rapidly.

Rocketlab' s forecast of 30+ ($150m) a year is not small change.

It's much cheaper to launch cubesats and other small satellites as secondaries on larger launchers or to bunch them up into a dedicate launch of many small satellites on one of the large launchers.  It's so much cheaper that it makes it worth it for small satellite operators to compromise on orbital plane and schedule to avoid a dedicated launcher.

The cubesat and smallsat industries are growing.  That spells disaster for small launchers, because the more cubesats and smallsats there are looking for rides to orbit, the more orbits will be served by dedicated launches of large launchers carrying many small satellites, and the more often they'll fly.

And as SpaceX develops reusability, it will only make the situation worse for small launchers.  Who in their right mind would pay $5 million for 100 kg to LEO when a reusable Falcon 9 can carry 100 times as much for $5-7 million?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 08/04/2014 06:14 AM
Responsiveness is the business case here.

The backlog for SpaceX is already longer than most business plans can handle.

There's nothing wrong with a little competition.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: fatjohn1408 on 08/04/2014 01:30 PM
So did the Atea 2 project die then?

I don't remember hearing anything about it. Source?

http://web.archive.org/web/20131127062937/http://www.rocketlab.co.nz/space-and-defense/sounding-rockets/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: mgfitter on 08/04/2014 06:26 PM
What I find funny, is that this Electron and also the Firefly launcher, both use webpages that are all-but blatant copies of Space-X's vehicle page. Same grey background, mostly the same fonts and sizes and even the same general layout.

Compare the pages for yourself:

http://www.rocketlabusa.com/
http://www.fireflyspace.com/vehicles/firefly-a
http://www.spacex.com/falcon9

So much for original thinking...

-MG.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 08/04/2014 09:38 PM
So did the Atea 2 project die then?

I don't remember hearing anything about it. Source?

http://web.archive.org/web/20131127062937/http://www.rocketlab.co.nz/space-and-defense/sounding-rockets/

Thanks. Yes, as far as I know it never flew.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: A_M_Swallow on 08/05/2014 02:32 AM
{snip}
And as SpaceX develops reusability, it will only make the situation worse for small launchers.  Who in their right mind would pay $5 million for 100 kg to LEO when a reusable Falcon 9 can carry 100 times as much for $5-7 million?


The client for the small launcher can specify the orbit where as the secondary payloads on the Falcon 9 have to use what is given.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 08/05/2014 02:33 AM
{snip}
And as SpaceX develops reusability, it will only make the situation worse for small launchers.  Who in their right mind would pay $5 million for 100 kg to LEO when a reusable Falcon 9 can carry 100 times as much for $5-7 million?


The client for the small launcher can specify the orbit where as the secondary payloads on the Falcon 9 have to use what is given.

.. and the launch schedule.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Lars_J on 08/05/2014 05:05 AM
It is a composite structure. Maybe all the connections are on the side away from the camera view. After all this is a publicity photo. It could also be a mock-up.

Surely you're not suggesting that the hold-downs are only on one side.

The hold-downs are actually there - 4 of them. Just look closer. (on the bottom around the engines)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Proponent on 08/05/2014 10:04 AM
What I find funny, is that this Electron and also the Firefly launcher, both use webpages that are all-but blatant copies of Space-X's vehicle page. Same grey background, mostly the same fonts and sizes and even the same general layout.

Another reason to define the "Falcon 9 paradigm (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35300.msg1237399#msg1237399)."
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 08/05/2014 10:21 AM
Emulating the perceived market leader is pretty common in every industry.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: simonbp on 08/06/2014 12:33 AM
It is. But seeing SpaceX as an established market leader is a rather new phenomenon.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: yegors on 08/06/2014 09:33 PM
At the stated price, that's $45,000/kg to LEO. That's not a bargain basement price at all.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/07/2014 08:29 AM
People a trying to compare apples to oranges.

Think of Electron as a taxi for delivering 6 cubesats to their individual destinations/orbits  at time of the customers choosing.

While F9 is a bus which can do the same for 60 cubesats if customer can afford to build 60 and the launch costs to deliver them all at once.
Alternatively we can use rideshare where all 6 cubesats are dropped off at the city depot and have to make their own way to their destinations. Bus will leave at what ever time if at all and cubesats maybe kicked off at last minute as bus is to crowded.

If your business plan relied on getting 6 cubesats into space reliably what delivery method would you use. Remember these cubesats a costing every minute they are not in space.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 08/07/2014 11:00 PM
At the stated price, that's $45,000/kg to LEO. That's not a bargain basement price at all.

You're confusing "cheap" with "good value".

$3 for a cup of coffee is cheap, but you'd be a sucker to pay that much if you were buying in bulk.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: RanulfC on 08/10/2014 12:34 AM
At the stated price, that's $45,000/kg to LEO. That's not a bargain basement price at all.

You're confusing "cheap" with "good value".

$3 for a cup of coffee is cheap, but you'd be a sucker to pay that much if you were buying in bulk.

Wait, what kind of "bulk" are we talking about here 'cause all I get is strange looks when I go looking for the "55-gallon drum" size bulk coffee at 7/11 or Starbucks....

(20 years in the military and "morning coffee" is not just a job, its an adventure!)

Randy
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 08/10/2014 12:48 AM
all I get is strange looks when I go looking for the "55-gallon drum" size bulk coffee at 7/11 or Starbucks....

Which is a great analogy for looking for low $/kg from a smallsat launcher.

If you want bulk prices, go to Walmart or Costco, and expect to part with a lot more cash in one go. When you take into account your cashflow and the time value of money you might not even end up paying less overall.

But it's not just about price. If Rocket Lab are successful at maintaining a regular launch cadence, there will be customers that value responsiveness over going as a secondary. It's important to remember that we're not talking about cubesats here. These are smallsats with propulsion - notoriously difficult to get launched as secondaries. So far, that's meant you had to find other smallsats to share a ride with - sometimes even your competitors!


Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: RanulfC on 08/10/2014 01:01 AM
It might be a tipping point for Australia to set up Commonwealth Space Agency and space program after all. C'mon Kiwi, c'mon!

Uhm, why? New Zealand isn't signatory/ratifier of the 1979 Moon treaty (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Treaty#Ratification) Australia is and therefore ANY profit made in space is going to have to be given to the UN for "redistribution" as a "heritage of all mankind" if operations are conducted from Australia.

No real incentive I'd think.

Randy
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 08/10/2014 01:03 AM
It might be a tipping point for Australia to set up Commonwealth Space Agency and space program after all. C'mon Kiwi, c'mon!

Uhm, why? New Zealand isn't signatory/ratifier of the 1979 Moon treaty (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Treaty#Ratification) Australia is and therefore ANY profit made in space is going to have to be given to the UN for "redistribution" as a "heritage of all mankind" if operations are conducted from Australia.

No real incentive I'd think.

Wrong. [/Jim mode]

I don't know where you get this nonsense from.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: RanulfC on 08/10/2014 01:15 AM
My speculation. There might be some sort of a Heavy version of the Electron in the future. Perhaps even a 5 or 7 core super Heavy version.
I wondered the same.  The otrag unit of the teens?
"OTRAG" technology and support of the original inventor has gone to InterOrbital :)

I'm really trying to wrap my head around why this is designed the way it is because I've only seen a very few, specific, cases where a small launcher wants/needs multiple engines on it and those were almost always aerospikes or for other altitude compensation reasons. Exactly what the Electron doesn't need.

Then again from "that-part-of-the-worlds" history I'm wondering why they use LOX at all given H2O2 experience but that's probably more "English" than ANZac :)

And while I'm ON that subject anyway the two launchers aren't all that different are they:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Arrow

Randy
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: RanulfC on 08/10/2014 01:25 AM
There are any number of efforts to build smallsat launchers.  People do pursue this potential market.

They pursue it because they really, really want to build rockets and they can't afford to even attempt anything bigger.

DARPA can't afford anything larger?

Often time the answer is actually yes in fact :) Depends on how many "failures" they've lost money on previously :)

Quote
What you say may be true for most of the efforts but that doesn't prove or disprove anything.
I think it more likely that this effort is sincere in going for the stated target.

Yes but... :) One thing that becomes very clear, very fast in any aerospace project is that "size matters" especially when paying for and building a "prototype" or test article. Smaller costs far less than larger despite any "operational" penalties. Building a 1/6th test article costs far less than 1/6th of the price of a full scale article even if you have to build all the infrastructure for building the 1/6th and the full scale as well.

Still in this particular case I'd go with the idea they are shooting for exactly what they say the are.

However, on the gripping hand this is pretty much what I "baseline" for a starting an LV program because I'm pretty sure this is all I could afford. (Or technically get someone with some actual money to afford :) )

Randy
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: RanulfC on 08/10/2014 01:28 AM
What I find funny, is that this Electron and also the Firefly launcher, both use webpages that are all-but blatant copies of Space-X's vehicle page. Same grey background, mostly the same fonts and sizes and even the same general layout.

Compare the pages for yourself:

http://www.rocketlabusa.com/
http://www.fireflyspace.com/vehicles/firefly-a
http://www.spacex.com/falcon9

So much for original thinking...

You're going to try and make an "issue" of the fact that they all use the same web-page designer? Probably the ONLY person in the situation at the moment who's making any money I might add :)

Randy
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: RanulfC on 08/10/2014 01:46 AM
So we have three recently-proposed launch vehicles, Falcon 9, Firefly and Electron, each of which has a single lox-hydrocarbon engine on the second stage and a large cluster of sea-level versions of the same engine on the first stage.  It seems to be the new paradigm.  Though you could argue it goes all the way back to the Saturn B designs circa 1960 -- eight H-1s for the first stage and a small cluster of vacuum-optimised H-1s for the second stage.

Hmmm, no clustered engines have been a "thing" for a long time, and historically its because it was a lot easier to make ONE engine and then bolt on as many as you needed. Then take the same engine and put a larger nozzle on it for high altitude use. "Optimized" small number engines was pretty much always aimed at LH2/LOx because everyone KNEW that they would be killer upper stage engines. Everything else was simply for biding time till we had "hydrogen" engines which were going to be the end all, be all engine and we'd never use/need anything else.

(No little bit of myopia to early rocket engineering I've noted from history :) )

The drive towards single engine on each stage was simply to reduce the count of parts that could possibly fail during launch. It's pretty much been "common wisdom" that with a small launcher you already wanted to aim at as few parts as possible, with this only recently being questioned with designs such as the Electron and Firefly. Commonality of propellant and engines has always seemed to be a "standard" for first and second stages from what I can see with third or more usually going for maximum performance (LH2/Lox) or density (solid) as a result.

Specifically for small launchers where in many cases small performance advantages have bigger effects, it has always seemed to me you'd want to put the highest density propellant with the "simplest" (there are degrees here) most robust engines in the first stage and higher performance (but still with robustness and cost in mind) engines on the second stage so as to if at all possible not NEED a third stage.

Seems I'm alone though in that philosophy :)
(In case anyone is interested: H2O2/Kero regenerative, pump fed first stage with a regenerative, pump fed LOx/Sub-Cooled Propane engine second stage = smallest possible, highest performance :) )
Anyone wishing to steal the "concept" is welcome to it :)

Randy
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: RanulfC on 08/10/2014 01:57 AM
It might be a tipping point for Australia to set up Commonwealth Space Agency and space program after all. C'mon Kiwi, c'mon!

Uhm, why? New Zealand isn't signatory/ratifier of the 1979 Moon treaty (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Treaty#Ratification) Australia is and therefore ANY profit made in space is going to have to be given to the UN for "redistribution" as a "heritage of all mankind" if operations are conducted from Australia.

No real incentive I'd think.

Wrong. [/Jim mode]

I don't know where you get this nonsense from.

My paper work including the full treaty which was used to convince Congress the thing was a pile of doggy-do searching for a place to sit :)

It may be the ONLY thing the L5 Society managed to do, but getting the US to stay out of that thing was THE one it it was it :)
Despite the minimal treatment Wikipedia gives it it includes a link to the full wording of the treaty AND the efforts to establish the UN commission that will be in charge of the a fore mentioned redistribution. In that exact same manner for the same process for any and all "seabed" mining that is covered under the 1979 treaty of the seas from which the wording was directly taken.

The US Congress DID sign and ratify THAT mess and has been working hard to undo it ever since. Mostly because it turns out Howard Hughes was NOT building a certain ship in order to strip the seabeds of minerals and make an obscene profit at the expense of the "common heritage of all mankind" :)
He was simply going after a sunken Soviet submarine but wasn't telling anyone that :)

You will note that "it has not been ratified by any state which engages in self-launched manned space exploration or has plans to do so" including the Russians (Soviets at the time) who were the major force BEHIND the treaty in the first place? Even the Chinese don't want anything to do with it for a reason :)

Randy
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 08/10/2014 02:09 AM
It might be a tipping point for Australia to set up Commonwealth Space Agency and space program after all. C'mon Kiwi, c'mon!

Uhm, why? New Zealand isn't signatory/ratifier of the 1979 Moon treaty (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Treaty#Ratification) Australia is and therefore ANY profit made in space is going to have to be given to the UN for "redistribution" as a "heritage of all mankind" if operations are conducted from Australia.

No real incentive I'd think.

Wrong. [/Jim mode]

I don't know where you get this nonsense from.

[incomprehensible self serving rant trimmed]

What the heck does any of that have to do with launch providers for smallsats?



Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/10/2014 04:29 AM
Multiple engine 1st stage LVs using same engine reduces the development costs to one engine.
 Developing a large 1st stage engine is a lot more expensive than the 2nd stage engine.

With 3D printing build costs are reduced and will only get cheaper in time. ($10,000 for NX-01 which is similar size engine).

Only one engine production line.

Any enhancements benefit both stages.

Engine out capability is added bonus along with option of powered recovery.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: RanulfC on 08/10/2014 05:11 AM
It might be a tipping point for Australia to set up Commonwealth Space Agency and space program after all. C'mon Kiwi, c'mon!

Uhm, why? New Zealand isn't signatory/ratifier of the 1979 Moon treaty (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Treaty#Ratification) Australia is and therefore ANY profit made in space is going to have to be given to the UN for "redistribution" as a "heritage of all mankind" if operations are conducted from Australia.

No real incentive I'd think.

Wrong. [/Jim mode]

I don't know where you get this nonsense from.

[incomprehensible self serving rant trimmed]

What the heck does any of that have to do with launch providers for smallsats?

Commercial launches of ANY sat from Australia (per the quoted post) are a non-starter due to the treaty. YOU stated this was "wrong" and asked where I got the information from. You then "trimmed" the relevant information and then ask how it's relevant. Hope that help you understand things :)
Bottom line is that the company of which this thread speaks is launching from New Zealand and therefore has no connection with or from Australia which the cited post was "hoping" would become involved. If they do this company is dead unless they move operations to the US.

"Relevance" is back in your court... literally actually :)

Randy
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: RanulfC on 08/10/2014 05:21 AM
Multiple engine 1st stage LVs using same engine reduces the development costs to one engine.

Still technically leaves you with the issue of much higher parts count and failure points. Which was the whole 'reason' for going to one engine in the first place.

Quote
Developing a large 1st stage engine is a lot more expensive than the 2nd stage engine.

Partially? How about we say that developing a LARGE first stage engine (to replace the multiple small ones) would be more expensive given manufacturing technology as per the next part?

Quote
With 3D printing build costs are reduced and will only get cheaper in time. ($10,000 for NX-01 which is similar size engine).

True and applicable per the above. But let me note that for SMALL rockets the engine costs were never that much of an issue anyway. I've seen higher performance engines offered that were made using older technology with similar pricing and better if they'd ever gotten to mass production. So I still don't "see" all the much advantage over and above its made "in-house".

Quote
Only one engine production line.

Any enhancements benefit both stages.

I'll buy into these two as a given :)

Quote
Engine out capability is added bonus along with option of powered recovery.

Former is a maybe advantage but the latter is VERY iffy given the size of launcher. Then again I LIKE the idea no matter the size, so I might as well agree here too :)

Randy
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 08/10/2014 05:22 AM
Commercial launches of ANY sat from Australia (per the quoted post) are a non-starter due to the treaty. YOU stated this was "wrong" and asked where I got the information from.

I also said it was nonsense. I've known people who have gotten very far into the process of launching commercial payloads from Australia. They've never had any problems with this supposed showstopper. I think you're just making stuff up.

Bottom line is that the company of which this thread speaks is launching from New Zealand and therefore has no connection with or from Australia which the cited post was "hoping" would become involved.

I too am baffled as to why anyone brought this up.. I know people like to joke that there's some sort of rivalry between Australia and New Zealand, but it's just that.

If they do this company is dead unless they move operations to the US.

What the heck are you talking about now??
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/10/2014 08:17 AM
Rocketlab is USA listed company with a lot of profits going to its USA share holders. Beck will be a significant shareholder with maybe a few other NZers.

All money spent on manufacturing and launches will stay in NZ economy, so it is still good for NZ.

Unlike other manufacturing I can't see it moving to China. ITAR has some pluses.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Zed_Noir on 08/11/2014 11:08 AM
There is a TMRO (formerly spacevidcast) webcast interview with the Rocket Lab USA founder & CEO  Peter Beck about the Electron rocket and the Rutherford engine.

http://youtu.be/tkmrZVDmio4

Webcast was uploaded on August 10th. Interview is from 17:55 to 31:44


Apparently from webcast. The Electron rocket body and tankage got heritage from carbon composite work New Zealand companies did for America's Cup boat races. Come to think of it, the rocket does look like an over-sized sail mast.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: edkyle99 on 08/11/2014 04:28 PM
Apparently from webcast. The Electron rocket body and tankage got heritage from carbon composite work New Zealand companies did for America's Cup boat races. Come to think of it, the rocket does look like an over-sized sail mast.
New Zealand not only built its own boats, but built many of the parts for the USA Team Oracle boat - not to mention providing the CEO, the skipper, the strategist, and most of the crew for the "USA" boat!

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/12/2014 08:56 AM
Just watched the show, some interesting points.

1) Choose the launch site first then designed LV for local weather so it can launch weekly.
2) Waited until they had hardware(working engine) before going public.
 To many new space companies go public with paper rockets or hardware (sounds a bit like a competing black LV).

3) Build a tank(fuselage?) every 2 days.

4) Were overwhelmed by the response from potential customers after going public.

5) Targeting a late 2015 launch date.

6) No plans to build anything bigger. Considering Electron has yet to fly I'm not surprised at this answer.




Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/14/2014 09:01 AM
Article on Small sat market and launcher.

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2577/1
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Silversheep2011 on 10/11/2014 06:26 AM
I admire the work on "Viscous Liquid Monopropellants"
to Quote

"VLM is a single part high density monopropellant. It currently has performance and density equal or better than current solid fuel propulsion systems but has all the controllability of a liquid system with an ability to throttle arbitrarily, shut down and restart"

maybe it's a development we will see years later catching on elsewhere...

http://www.rocketlabusa.com/category/rocket-lab-news/vlm/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 11/03/2014 08:55 AM
Another news article.

Order book fulling up without them trying to sell launches.
First test flight end of 2015, commercial flights from mid 2016.
ELV only RLV not worth it due low cost LV.

http://www.satellitetoday.com/launch/2014/10/23/electron-to-launch-at-least-once-per-week-says-rocket-lab-ceo/

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Silversheep2011 on 11/03/2014 09:40 AM
30 customers noted in the link

This could be a new beginning for rocketry for the "down under" crowd.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 11/03/2014 05:00 PM
From financial point of view RLV may not be viable especially if they can mass produce them cheap enough. Environmental RLV makes sense, I can see some opposition them drop 50 boosters a year into the see. Also the local fishing fleet would object to vacating the flight path safe zone once a week.

If booster is reusable then vacating the down range part of flight path may not be necessary. There is still a minor risk of the occasionally booster failing and crashing in sea.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: RanulfC on 11/03/2014 06:39 PM
From financial point of view RLV may not be viable especially if they can mass produce them cheap enough. Environmental RLV makes sense, I can see some opposition them drop 50 boosters a year into the see. Also the local fishing fleet would object to vacating the flight path safe zone once a week.

If booster is reusable then vacating the down range part of flight path may not be necessary. There is still a minor risk of the occasionally booster failing and crashing in sea.

As I understand it, (US example only mind you) RLV or no they'd have to evacuate the possible "down-range" landing zone in any case. If for no other reason than you can't evacute quickly DURING an emergency so you'd clear it before hand.

Randy
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: guckyfan on 11/04/2014 06:45 AM

As I understand it, (US example only mind you) RLV or no they'd have to evacuate the possible "down-range" landing zone in any case. If for no other reason than you can't evacute quickly DURING an emergency so you'd clear it before hand.

Randy

Not necessarily. It is all a risk calculation thing. If  there is a calculated 90% chance of RTLS success it reduces the risk by one order of magnitude. The smaller stage might also reduce risk. That may well get the total calculated risk below the threshold where evacuation is necessary.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Brick_top on 12/29/2014 08:55 AM
Interesting photo on the scale of the Rutherford engine from Rocket Lab press photo on Doug Messier's Parabolic web site. link (http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/07/30/rocket-lab-funding-sources/#more-53025) That is Peter Beck founder & CEO of Rocket Lab standing next to the Electron core, reminisce of Elon Musk next to his Falcon 1 photo.

Question. If the Electron core is 1 m diameter, can anyone estimate the nozzle diameter of the Rutherford engine? I think it about 18 cm from looking at the photo.

roughly 20cm I think

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 02/09/2015 07:45 AM
Rocketlab need more engineers and having a hard time recruiting them.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11388291

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 02/09/2015 06:34 PM
Rocketlab are looking at Cape Canaveral for launch sites, this site would be mainly for government missions.

The use of low cost cubesats in future by both NASA and DoD will only increase. DoD business especially is worth chasing, of cause they will have to get certification. They can thank SpaceX for making the certification process smoother.


http://www.floridatoday.com/story/tech/science/space/2015/02/06/new-rocket-company-looks-cape-canaveral-launches/23009275/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Beittil on 02/13/2015 07:38 AM
Rocket Lab Ltd ‏@rocketlabltd  21m21 minutes ago
Rutherford test fires reach a frequency of one per day in preparation for the first flight. Exciting times!
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/02/2015 04:59 PM
Presser:

The aerospace company Rocket Lab has announced today their completion of Series B financing, led by Bessemer Venture Partners with full participation from existing investors Khosla Ventures and K1W1 investment fund. Additionally, Lockheed Martin will be providing strategic investment support.

--

LOS ANGELES, March 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Rocket Lab announced today that it has completed a Series B financing round, led by Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP) with full participation from existing investors Khosla Ventures and K1W1 investment fund. In addition, Lockheed Martin will make a strategic investment in Rocket Lab to support the exploration of future aerospace technologies.

The company will use the funding to complete the Electron launch system and plans to begin operations as a commercial launch provider as early as 2016.

David Cowan, a BVP partner and former Skybox Board member, has joined Rocket Lab's Board as part of BVP's funding. "On the South Pacific islands of New Zealand, a world class team of engineers is designing a rocket that will revolutionize aerospace," says Cowan.

"With unprecedented economy, reliability, fuel efficiency and frequency, Electron is the transformational launch option that small satellite constellations need to usher in a new era of space colonization."

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck says the company is delighted to be partnering with new investors BVP and Lockheed Martin. "Bessemer Venture Partners, a leading VC firm, actively invests in space startups and Lockheed Martin, an aerospace powerhouse with a deep history in space systems, has been instrumental in all major American space endeavors over the last century. We are thrilled to have these global space institutions as part of the Rocket Lab team."

"Lockheed Martin pursues technology investments that help us keep pace with innovation across the industry," said Lockheed Martin's Chief Scientist Ned Allen. "Rocket Lab's work could have application in a number of aerospace domains, and we look forward to working with them to complement our overall efforts in small lift capabilities and hypersonic flight technologies."

Rocket Lab expects to reveal further details about the Electron launch system in April 2015 at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

About Electron

Rocket Lab is building an all carbon-composite launch vehicle, named Electron. Electron is a revolutionary launch system, designed to liberate the emerging small satellite market. Electron can rapidly deliver small satellites to commercial orbits at world-first frequency and will be the world's most affordable launch service for small satellites. The lead-time for businesses to launch a satellite will be reduced from years to weeks through vertical integration with Rocket Lab's private launch facility in Auckland, New Zealand. The first Electron launch is planned for December 2015.

About Rocket Lab

Peter Beck established Rocket Lab in 2008 as a center for advanced space programs. Rocket Lab's mission is to remove the barriers to commercial space by providing high-frequency, low-cost launches. The company was founded on the belief that small payloads require dedicated small launch vehicles and the flexibility not currently offered by traditional rocket systems. The Auckland startup has developed and launched more than 80 rockets and has worked with customers including Lockheed Martin, DARPA and Aerojet Rocketdyne. Rocket Lab employs a large team of industry experts, who are based at Rocket Lab's facility in Auckland and the USA. Learn more at www.rocketlabusa.com or on Twitter @rocketlabltd.

About Bessemer Venture Partners

Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP) invests in early-stage, hyper-growth startups, partnering closely with entrepreneurs to build durable businesses. BVP is a global firm with offices in Menlo Park, Cambridge, New York, Bangalore, Herzliya and Sao Paulo. With $4 billion under management, BVP invests anywhere from $100,000 to $75 million in innovative companies like Pinterest, Twitch, Box, LinkedIn, Shopify, Yelp, Skybox and Skype. More than 100 BVP companies have gone public and in the last three years alone, BVP has had 37exits (IPO and M&A) and made new investments in more than 70 companies. Learn more at www.bvp.com/space or on Twitter @BessemerVP.

About Lockheed Martin

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 112,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

--

The company will use the funding to complete the Electron launch system and plans to begin operations as a commercial launch provider as early as 2016. To view images of Electron Orbital Vehicle, see here:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/f6yk0gzulqk5k72/AABgdM-3m0u007mzVDYn5nfUa?dl=0
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: gongora on 03/02/2015 05:24 PM
Will be interesting to see who among Electron, Firefly, VG, etc. actually gets off the ground in the next two years and what their prices will end up being.  Hard to believe the market will support all 3 (although they do have different payload masses that could create niches).
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 03/02/2015 05:41 PM
Rocketlab are hoping to fly end of 2015. Lack of manpower is their biggest problem, while finance and technology are well in hand. This latest news plus LM involvement may help the recruitment drive, plus having access to LM knowledge base is a big plus.

Both Firefly and Rocket lab have stated there is no shortage of customers.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: WmThomas on 03/02/2015 07:11 PM
Both Firefly and Rocket lab have stated there is no shortage of customers.

Which is strange, since SpaceX didn't find many customers for Falcon 1. Maybe five years have changed the satellite market.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 03/02/2015 09:21 PM
This latest market research may explain some of the demand.

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2015/03/02/euroconsult-sees-large-market-smallsats/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 03/02/2015 09:45 PM
I do wonder if LM plan use RL for testing RLV technology. The Electron would be a great test bed ,with F9 configuration they can do vertical landing or add wings for horizontal landing.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 03/03/2015 12:32 AM
Interview with Peter Beck from today. Not much info in it.

http://www.3news.co.nz/business/full-interview-rocket-labs-peter-beck-talks-satellite-aspirations-2015030306
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: meekGee on 03/03/2015 01:51 AM
This presser is just drowning in Silicon Valley VC-speech.

Flagship sentences like "Electron is a revolutionary launch system, designed to liberate the emerging small satellite market", coupled with evasive phrasing like "world's most affordable launch service for small satellites" (So it is, what, cheaper then Pegasus?) and the never ending search for exciting things that you can say you do well but are not the main goal "With unprecedented economy, reliability, fuel efficiency and frequency,"...

So it has unprecedented:
- fuel efficient (however that is defined)
- high frequency (launch rate?), but "one-each" launches
- reliability (is it calculated per single-satellite-launch?  and how do they know, anyway?)
- economy (however that is defined)
- and something about short lead time.

But it clearly does not have, even on paper, a lower price per kg. Or the ability to launch more satellites. Or a path towards reusability.  Or they would have said so.

So it is optimized for small satellites that are not part of large constellations and need to be launched really quickly.

Not very convincing.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Lars-J on 03/03/2015 02:22 AM
Sounds like the same pitch that Firefly is giving.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: gongora on 03/03/2015 03:45 AM
RocketLab is advertising $5M for a launch (110kg payload capacity).  That would be lowest on the market by a fairly large margin.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Appable on 03/03/2015 04:34 AM
RocketLab is advertising $5M for a launch (110kg payload capacity).  That would be lowest on the market by a fairly large margin.

I agree. It's not likely that either of these will have the lowest price per kilogram of the industry. But it allows smallsat institutions the ability to select their own designated orbit, rather than piggybacking on other launches.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 03/03/2015 04:42 AM
Comparing these small sat LVs to LVs like F9 and Atlas 5 is like comparing apples to oranges.

Ride share is like catching a bus which doesn't run to a set schedule, seat price maybe cheap but you need to book your seat months/years in advance to find that the bus has been cancelled or is not running to schedule ie delayed by months.  Even when cubesat gets dropped off it will most likely be 100s m/s of DV from its final destination, suddenly a 3U cubesat becomes 4U ie 1U for propulsion and fuel. Each launch will most likely result in different DV, we now have a choice build each cubesat differently depending on DV required or  build them all the same and accept that some are carrying a lot more DV (kgs) than will ever be used.

The small LV are more like cabs.
Can be booked weeks/months in advance, will launch when you are ready. The cubesats will be delivered within m/s of destination so may not need any DV, if needed small micro thrusters should do the job. They can all be built to same spec and not needing significant DV is a large R&D and build cost saving.

It is hard to run a business when your cubesats don't earn any revenue sitting on the ground waiting for a ride share. With dedicated LVs they can be flying and bringing in revenue within weeks of being built. This launch assurance is worth considerably more than any savings offered by a ride share.


Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Lars-J on 03/03/2015 04:56 AM
Nobody disputes that a smaller launcher - in theory - would be the best option for most smallsat customers.

The issue is that the cost savings for these smaller launchers don't seem to materialize. And that the market seems to be much smaller than hoped for, further driving up the costs.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 03/03/2015 05:55 AM
RocketLab is advertising $5M for a launch (110kg payload capacity).  That would be lowest on the market by a fairly large margin.

I agree. It's not likely that either of these will have the lowest price per kilogram of the industry. But it allows smallsat institutions the ability to select their own designated orbit, rather than piggybacking on other launches.

That depends where you're launching from.  Does anyone know for certain whether that will be from NZ or from somewhere in the US?

If 'lowest price per kilogram' means shipping your sat to NZ, that might not work out lowest in the end once logistics is factored in and AFAIK there is no market in this region (not a large one anyway) for smallsat launch.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: GalacticIntruder on 03/03/2015 06:25 AM
RL has no US infrastructure, so that will take time and money, etc, and higher operating costs.  However, the US is the largest small sat player, and has good space infrastructure, VC, talent; so if RL wants to steal small sats away from others, it has to be in the US. (No offense to NZ space.... )

SpaceX rarely mentions small sats/secondaries, except they make no money on them and do it as a favor to the space community. It would be nice to know what they charge, if anything.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: MATTBLAK on 03/03/2015 06:39 AM
The original test launch (for a smaller rocket) was done in 2009 from Mercury Island, which is part of a group of Islands off the North East of the North Island of New Zealand. I'm not sure where future launches will be from.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_Islands

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11410558

http://www.rocketlabusa.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qi6Z6yFJ23U
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: The Amazing Catstronaut on 03/03/2015 08:08 AM
The market seems to be much smaller than hoped for, further driving up the costs.

This would jar with both Firefly's statements and RocketLab's statements.

Do you believe that they're telling people what they would like to hear themselves? Certainly, they've been big on positive exposition lately. Firefly in particular has made reference to the future internet satcom constellations which may appear later; however, those constellations have much to gain by deploying themselves on a much more sizable LV.

At the same time, the smallsat market has been encountering significant incremental growth. I reckon at least one of these companies will make the cut.


Edit: SATCOM, not sitcom xD gawdarn' it ;D
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 03/03/2015 10:20 AM
RL has no US infrastructure, so that will take time and money, etc, and higher operating costs.  However, the US is the largest small sat player, and has good space infrastructure, VC, talent; so if RL wants to steal small sats away from others, it has to be in the US. (No offense to NZ space.... )

SpaceX rarely mentions small sats/secondaries, except they make no money on them and do it as a favor to the space community. It would be nice to know what they charge, if anything.

Besides commercial launches from NZ (I think just south of Christchurch, just rumor) they are also planning to do US launches for DOD and NASA initially, this may include manufacturing in US. See Post 109.

Being so small they maybe able operate a mobile launcher, plus mobile fuel tankers so launch pad infrastructure may not be that expensive. 

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 03/03/2015 10:27 AM
The market seems to be much smaller than hoped for, further driving up the costs.

This would jar with both Firefly's statements and Electron's statements.

Start-ups will always tell everyone their target market is going to be enormous.  They're the least likely source to be unbiased about the size of their own market.

Do you believe that they're telling people what they would like to hear themselves? Certainly, they've been big on positive exposition lately. Firefly in particular has made reference to the future internet sitcom constellations which may appear later; however, those constellations have much to gain by deploying themselves on a much more sizable LV.

At the same time, the smallsat market has been encountering significant incremental growth. I reckon at least one of these companies will make the cut.

I think their only hope is to do what SpaceX did -- move up to a larger vehicle as soon as they get their small vehicle working.  The small vehicle can be used to learn, build an organization, and prove they have the ability to get something to orbit, which will be very helpful for getting the larger investment they'll need for their larger launch vehicles.

The small payload market will never be more than a small niche because it's easy to launch a dispenser with a large number of small satellites on a large vehicle.  The orbit might not be the very best for a particular purpose, but it will be so much cheaper than a $5 million dedicated launch that the dedicated launch will get few takers.  And the more small satellites are launched, the more big launch vehicles to more orbits more often will happen.  The small satellite market growing won't help the dedicated small payload business, it will hurt it by making shared rides more appealing.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: A_M_Swallow on 03/04/2015 04:46 AM
Many satellite owners do not like secondary launch payloads that use hot thrusters. They worry that the fuel will explode. So there may be a market for launching small satellites that contain propellant that is flammable or under high pressure.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 03/04/2015 04:55 AM
Many satellite owners do not like secondary launch payloads that use hot thrusters. They worry that the fuel will explode. So there may be a market for launching small satellites that contain propellant that is flammable or under high pressure.

Fair enough.  But if the market for such hot thruster small sat launches is big enough, someone will launch a dedicated mission on a large launcher that carries a dispenser with lots of those hot thrusters small sats.  The market for individual launches of them can only get so big.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: The Amazing Catstronaut on 03/04/2015 08:24 AM
The orbit might not be the very best for a particular purpose, but it will be so much cheaper than a $5 million dedicated launch that the dedicated launch will get few takers.  And the more small satellites are launched, the more big launch vehicles to more orbits more often will happen.  The small satellite market growing won't help the dedicated small payload business, it will hurt it by making shared rides more appealing.

An erudite, wonderfully worded point right there. I've readjusted my viewpoint accordingly.

Going with that perspective, it seems extremely concerning (more so for Firefly than RocketLab, since Firefly has made it fairly clear that they intend to stay small for a while), that they're effectively subscribing to a business plan where the potential for future growth actually drops year on year.

However, we're not yet at the SpaceX-esque flight rate nirvana where big, cheap, ridiculous kg/$ ratio LV's have completely fulfilled every possible demand of the smallsat industry. Not just yet. As to when we will, it's probably a fair bet it won't be decades away, or even necessarily after 2020.

Can they be viable in the interim? I can imagine so. They're just going to have to be very, very smart with where their next generation of LVs take them.

Edit: Perhaps the SpaceX growth system; launch a few, then scale up to the mainstream, is truly the system to emulate.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: simonbp on 03/04/2015 02:22 PM
SpaceX rarely mentions small sats/secondaries, except they make no money on them and do it as a favor to the space community. It would be nice to know what they charge, if anything.

True, but there is a key difference that SpaceX ride-alongs basically cannot control what orbit they end up in, which makes the system useless for launching constellations, which is exactly what small satellites are most useful for. PlanetLabs has been the most successful so far by launching off of ISS, but I'm sure they would love a way to reach a larger number of orbits (especially an array of Sun-Synchronous orbits, allowing all-day imagining of any particular place in the world).
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 03/04/2015 07:21 PM
"@pbdes: SpaceX Falcon to carry 90 sats on Spaceflight Inc's Sherpa dispenser late this year, likely a record for # sats on a single launch."

A dedicated ride share. I think this Tweet from today is related to this article.

http://www.satellitetoday.com/launch/2014/05/08/spaceflight-inc-s-first-sherpa-flight-almost-fully-booked-with-smallsats/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 03/04/2015 08:35 PM
"@pbdes: SpaceX Falcon to carry 90 sats on Spaceflight Inc's Sherpa dispenser late this year, likely a record for # sats on a single launch."

A dedicated ride share. I think this Tweet from today is related to this article.

http://www.satellitetoday.com/launch/2014/05/08/spaceflight-inc-s-first-sherpa-flight-almost-fully-booked-with-smallsats/

I think that's the future of small satellite launch.  It's like having a huge container ship full of individual containers.  The more containers there are being shipped, the more likely there's a container ship going near where you want your container to end up.  Small boats carrying a single container aren't going to be able to compete, even if they're cheaper on per-voyage basis because they're so much more expensive on a per-container basis.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 03/04/2015 10:37 PM
The real value here is regular reliable launches. Let's hope they can deliver.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: meekGee on 03/04/2015 10:45 PM
"@pbdes: SpaceX Falcon to carry 90 sats on Spaceflight Inc's Sherpa dispenser late this year, likely a record for # sats on a single launch."

A dedicated ride share. I think this Tweet from today is related to this article.

http://www.satellitetoday.com/launch/2014/05/08/spaceflight-inc-s-first-sherpa-flight-almost-fully-booked-with-smallsats/

I think that's the future of small satellite launch.  It's like having a huge container ship full of individual containers.  The more containers there are being shipped, the more likely there's a container ship going near where you want your container to end up.  Small boats carrying a single container aren't going to be able to compete, even if they're cheaper on per-voyage basis because they're so much more expensive on a per-container basis.

Best analogy in a long time.

All the single-minisat launchers are just ignoring the fact that the whole point of minisats is that they operate in large groups that go (invariably) onto discrete orbital planes.

You can't build a proper business plan based on one-off mini-prototypes for an OOM of $1M.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 03/04/2015 10:50 PM
If those big container ships had a habit of never leaving port on time you'd quickly discover a market exists for smaller boats that do.

... also, if you had to wait 3 years to get a slot on one of those big container ships.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 03/04/2015 11:16 PM
If those big container ships had a habit of never leaving port on time you'd quickly discover a market exists for smaller boats that do.

... also, if you had to wait 3 years to get a slot on one of those big container ships.

Yes, that's true.  But I'm not sure how good a business plan it is to bet that SpaceX can't learn to launch regularly.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 03/04/2015 11:22 PM
Yes, that's true.  But I'm not sure how good a business plan it is to bet that SpaceX can't learn to launch regularly.

I'm having trouble thinking of a safer bet right now.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Lars-J on 03/04/2015 11:32 PM
Yes, that's true.  But I'm not sure how good a business plan it is to bet that SpaceX can't learn to launch regularly.

I'm having trouble thinking of a safer bet right now.

After three launches in 60 days?  ::)  I think it is a MUCH safer bet that all the business plans of these small-sat launcher startups aren't worth the paper they are printed on.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 03/04/2015 11:44 PM
After three launches in 60 days?  ::)  I think it is a MUCH safer bet that all the business plans of these small-sat launcher startups aren't worth the paper they are printed on.

None of them launched on time.. and it still takes three years to get on the manifest.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Lars-J on 03/05/2015 12:06 AM
After three launches in 60 days?  ::)  I think it is a MUCH safer bet that all the business plans of these small-sat launcher startups aren't worth the paper they are printed on.

None of them launched on time.. and it still takes three years to get on the manifest.

But that wasn't what your "bet" was about. Nonetheless I look forward to seeing the launch frequency (& timeliness!) of these small sat players, if they ever fly.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 03/05/2015 12:17 AM
Nonetheless I look forward to seeing the launch frequency (& timeliness!) of these small sat players, if they ever fly.

Me too. It makes sense that a smaller vehicle in mass production should be more responsive, but there's no guarantees.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Impaler on 03/05/2015 02:14 AM
If the 'dispenser' system on conventional size rockets works and becomes the norm then it really resolves the whole 'hitching a ride' problem for the small stat and leaves no advantage is 'booking time' and flexibility for the small rocket.  Rather then directly approaching and negotiating with the launch provider to effectively bum a ride, they book with the dispenser provider which dose the interface with the launch provider AS a full fledged customer of the launch provider, that is going to get you a lot more clout and a lot lower chance of getting bumped in time or dumped into some undesirable orbit.

Now the small sat maker is arguably in a better position then the manufacturer of a whole launch vehicle using traditional satellite, because they can jump in at virtually the last minute if their is still room in the dispenser systems manifest and assuming the dispenser launches regularly enough they get to orbit is less lead-time on average.  It's like the difference in lead time between booking a whole plane vs buying a single ticket at the airport.

P.S.  I found it really nutting that they claim launching small sats and creating small sat constellations is what will lead to space-colonization.  By definition these small launch vehicles are incapable of being used in manned space flight even to LEO (a human rated capsule for 1 person exceeds their launch capability), their is no way they can colonize anything with this tech even if they had thousands of them and they were fully reusable.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 03/05/2015 02:42 AM
P.S.  I found it really nutting that they claim launching small sats and creating small sat constellations is what will lead to space-colonization.  By definition these small launch vehicles are incapable of being used in manned space flight even to LEO (a human rated capsule for 1 person exceeds their launch capability), their is no way they can colonize anything with this tech even if they had thousands of them and they were fully reusable.

Maybe they meant colonization by ants. :-)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 03/05/2015 02:48 AM
P.S.  I found it really nutting that they claim launching small sats and creating small sat constellations is what will lead to space-colonization.  By definition these small launch vehicles are incapable of being used in manned space flight even to LEO (a human rated capsule for 1 person exceeds their launch capability), their is no way they can colonize anything with this tech even if they had thousands of them and they were fully reusable.

It takes thousands of companies to make an industry. Currently there's very few actually operating anything in space. Their argument is that they can help increase that number. Whether they can actually do that or not is the question.

It's important to remember that some of us still think space will be colonized by humanity, not just Elon Musk.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 03/05/2015 02:57 AM
If these small LVs can achieve the high flight rates that Firefly and Rocketlab are talking about then expect them to keep innovating and drive launches prices down while advancing LV technology.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/05/2015 03:09 AM
It's worth noting that Firefly's payload market is an order of magnitude above RocketLab's 110kg.

RocketLab is to Firefly as Firefly is to SpaceX's F9R.

I'm not sure $5m is cheap enough for such a tiny payload.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: meekGee on 03/05/2015 04:08 AM
Paper rockets always launch on time, and are 100% reliable.

3 years manifest has nothing to do with the size of the rocket.  Why would a smaller rocket company that's wildly successful have a shorter waiting list?

Or if there's no waiting list - how well does that bode to the business plan?

---

Anyway, 1 ton and $5M puts FF in the same category as Launcher One.    For context, consider Weiler's 700 satellite constellation.   Should they be launched, one by one, using Launcher One?  What's the total cost there?   And will they launch one per day for two years?

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/05/2015 04:13 AM
The cost of Firefly's vehicles is supposed to be $8-9 million, but that's for a ~1 ton payload.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 03/05/2015 04:19 AM
3 years manifest has nothing to do with the size of the rocket.

Yeah, it does. Not only can you find more payloads (and not have to wait until multiple smaller payloads come together) you can also turn around the pad faster for a smaller vehicle. You need less operations staff, less complicated logistics to get the rocket to the pad, off-the-shelf logistics to get the payload to the rocket, etc, etc. The advantage of scale works both ways, they're just different advantages :)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 03/05/2015 04:21 AM
The cost of Firefly's vehicles is supposed to be $8-9 million, but that's for a ~1 ton payload.
Actually Alpha is 400kg to LEO, Electron is 110kg to SS.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: meekGee on 03/05/2015 06:40 AM
3 years manifest has nothing to do with the size of the rocket.

Yeah, it does. Not only can you find more payloads (and not have to wait until multiple smaller payloads come together) you can also turn around the pad faster for a smaller vehicle. You need less operations staff, less complicated logistics to get the rocket to the pad, off-the-shelf logistics to get the payload to the rocket, etc, etc. The advantage of scale works both ways, they're just different advantages :)

I don't agree. 

"Waiting for payloads to come together" is only relevant if each customer only wants to launch one.  That's the fallacy.

Mini satellites work in constellations.  Every customer wants to launch a large quantity of them.   Basing your plan on "one-each" means that you will only have as many mini-launches as there are customers (for prototyping, perhaps) and then of course you'll be able to provide a rocket right away, since your manifest will be rock empty....

The idea of serving a market that wants unplanned launches right away - I don't see that market yet.  It takes time to develop hardware, and so customers can sign up a couple of years in advance.

We'll see.  I think the mini-launchers companies are in bubble mode.  It doesn't add up financially, it just sounds good in relation to mini-sats. 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 03/05/2015 07:10 AM
That's the fallacy.

There's more of them than constellations.

Quote from: meekGee
Mini satellites work in constellations.  Every customer wants to launch a large quantity of them.

No. Not at all.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 03/05/2015 07:23 AM
Here is another article on small LVs. They say Firefly Alpha sun synchronous payload is 210kg, if is so then the per kg to orbit is similar to Electron. ie $5m for 110kg compared to $8m for 210kg.

http://seradata.com/SSI/2014/06/uk-launch-symposium-patriotic-rocket-scientists-want-to-put-britain-back-into-launch-business-but-know-that-affordability-is-the-key/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 03/05/2015 08:25 AM
Here is another article on small LVs. They say Firefly Alpha sun synchronous payload is 210kg, if is so then the per kg to orbit is similar to Electron. ie $5m for 110kg compared to $8m for 210kg.

http://seradata.com/SSI/2014/06/uk-launch-symposium-patriotic-rocket-scientists-want-to-put-britain-back-into-launch-business-but-know-that-affordability-is-the-key/

Coincidentally, $5-8 million is the range Shotwell mentioned at a satellite industry conference as the long-term price for a Falcon 9 class launch.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: fast on 03/05/2015 09:46 AM
Here is another article on small LVs. They say Firefly Alpha sun synchronous payload is 210kg, if is so then the per kg to orbit is similar to Electron. ie $5m for 110kg compared to $8m for 210kg.

http://seradata.com/SSI/2014/06/uk-launch-symposium-patriotic-rocket-scientists-want-to-put-britain-back-into-launch-business-but-know-that-affordability-is-the-key/

Coincidentally, $5-8 million is the range Shotwell mentioned at a satellite industry conference as the long-term price for a Falcon 9 class launch.


$5-8 million for 13 150 kg to LEO :D
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 03/05/2015 07:37 PM
$5-8 million for 13 150 kg to LEO :D

With an aspiration of 12 launches per year.. woooo.. they're totally going to own the entire market for launches with that!
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 03/05/2015 08:52 PM
Good luck booking a F9R launch in need few years for $8m.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: RanulfC on 03/05/2015 09:12 PM
P.S.  I found it really nutting that they claim launching small sats and creating small sat constellations is what will lead to space-colonization.  By definition these small launch vehicles are incapable of being used in manned space flight even to LEO (a human rated capsule for 1 person exceeds their launch capability), their is no way they can colonize anything with this tech even if they had thousands of them and they were fully reusable.

Maybe they meant colonization by ants. :-)

This leads to having to point this out:
"The Program"
(Background)http://www.klydemorris.com/theprogram.cfm
(Strip itself)http://www.klydemorris.com/strips.cfm?Strip_ID=286

Ants in space :)

Randy
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 03/05/2015 10:03 PM
$5-8 million for 13 150 kg to LEO :D

With an aspiration of 12 launches per year.. woooo.. they're totally going to own the entire market for launches with that!

Yeah, I'm sure you believe 100% that SpaceX's aspirations stop at 12 launches a year. :-)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: The Amazing Catstronaut on 03/05/2015 10:04 PM


It takes thousands of companies to make an industry. Currently there's very few actually operating anything in space. Their argument is that they can help increase that number. Whether they can actually do that or not is the question.

It's important to remember that some of us still think space will be colonized by humanity, not just Elon Musk.

Let's leave the anti-personality cultism and the colonisation stuff out of this. There's tonnes of threads for that already. RocketLab is about small sats, let's stick to that.

You make a lot of good points QuantumG, and I agree with you that not every organisation that coughs up enough quid for a smallsat or two has necessarily enough resources (or the motivation - even a cubesat can perform an incredible amount of science for its mass) to send up a constellation of them, especially when we're talking about science oriented earthsats instead of a telecom project. Firefly recently compared their business model to "a train", which payloads then cash into, and I can see how the metaphor works out for either ff or RocketLab; both are developing small, relatively simple rockets which (should) be easy to tease the bugs out of, and thus fly a frequent, predictable service. Kinda' like a train (in theory. The trains around here suffer more delays than a certain past Orbcomm launch).

It all boils down to them getting those payloads. Along with not blowing up any more times than is necessary, or whatever, but that's a given for any LV, in any stripes, sizes, flags or colours.

Edit: Grammar.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Silversheep2011 on 03/12/2015 10:32 AM
An update from THRO web broadcast episode 8.08 at the 30:30 mark test flights anticipated by end of 2015!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkzbT-7MHG0
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 03/13/2015 12:14 AM
It all boils down to them getting those payloads. Along with not blowing up any more times than is necessary, or whatever, but that's a given for any LV, in any stripes, sizes, flags or colours.

{emphasis mine}
A fair point..  And presumably reliability is going to be key to their success, because, to use the "train analogy", if an entire train derails you've just trashed a whole lot more cargo (and a whole lot more people's dreams) than you would if you lost just the engine and a single carriage.


And a question around that:  It's not evident to me from the pics posted above exactly how the 'Electron' is steered.  Does anyone know??

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 03/13/2015 01:12 AM
It all boils down to them getting those payloads. Along with not blowing up any more times than is necessary, or whatever, but that's a given for any LV, in any stripes, sizes, flags or colours.

{emphasis mine}
A fair point..  And presumably reliability is going to be key to their success, because, to use the "train analogy", if an entire train derails you've just trashed a whole lot more cargo (and a whole lot more people's dreams) than you would if you lost just the engine and a single carriage.

That makes no difference.  Whether it's one hundred trains at one customer each or one train with a hundred customers, if the locomotive causes a crash 5% of the time, each customer has a 5% chance of being in a crash.  Over time, 5% of your customers will end up being in crashes.  Whether it's one out of 20 launches crashing 100 customers or 100 out of 2000 launches crashing 100 customers, it's exactly the same result.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 03/13/2015 02:58 AM
It all boils down to them getting those payloads. Along with not blowing up any more times than is necessary, or whatever, but that's a given for any LV, in any stripes, sizes, flags or colours.

{emphasis mine}
A fair point..  And presumably reliability is going to be key to their success, because, to use the "train analogy", if an entire train derails you've just trashed a whole lot more cargo (and a whole lot more people's dreams) than you would if you lost just the engine and a single carriage.

That makes no difference.  Whether it's one hundred trains at one customer each or one train with a hundred customers, if the locomotive causes a crash 5% of the time, each customer has a 5% chance of being in a crash.  Over time, 5% of your customers will end up being in crashes.  Whether it's one out of 20 launches crashing 100 customers or 100 out of 2000 launches crashing 100 customers, it's exactly the same result.

I'd like to think so, but I'm not so sure..  IIRC, starting out, SpaceX had three strike-outs in a row with Falcon 1.  After watching Elon Musk's  '60 Minutes' interview following the last one, it seems to me it was only determination to not ever give up that saw SpaceX go on to be where it is today.  One more might have been the end of them.

Therefore, ISTM that it's not only the quantity but exactly where those crashes occur in the vehicle development cycle (and how good the company is at PR and retaining funding afterwards) that decides the success (or failure) of the entire venture.
 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 03/13/2015 04:52 AM
It all boils down to them getting those payloads. Along with not blowing up any more times than is necessary, or whatever, but that's a given for any LV, in any stripes, sizes, flags or colours.

{emphasis mine}
A fair point..  And presumably reliability is going to be key to their success, because, to use the "train analogy", if an entire train derails you've just trashed a whole lot more cargo (and a whole lot more people's dreams) than you would if you lost just the engine and a single carriage.

That makes no difference.  Whether it's one hundred trains at one customer each or one train with a hundred customers, if the locomotive causes a crash 5% of the time, each customer has a 5% chance of being in a crash.  Over time, 5% of your customers will end up being in crashes.  Whether it's one out of 20 launches crashing 100 customers or 100 out of 2000 launches crashing 100 customers, it's exactly the same result.

I'd like to think so, but I'm not so sure..  IIRC, starting out, SpaceX had three strike-outs in a row with Falcon 1.  After watching Elon Musk's  '60 Minutes' interview following the last one, it seems to me it was only determination to not ever give up that saw SpaceX go on to be where it is today.  One more might have been the end of them.

Therefore, ISTM that it's not only the quantity but exactly where those crashes occur in the vehicle development cycle (and how good the company is at PR and retaining funding afterwards) that decides the success (or failure) of the entire venture.

Sure, that's a fair point.  I was addressing the stead-state case.  Finding the initial design flaws is another issue.

But if we're talking about whether a customer would rather fly with a dedicated small launcher or as one of many on a Falcon 9 flight -- well, Falcon 9 has already gone through the learning curve.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 04/14/2015 07:22 PM
Electron to use battery powered electric fuel pump. Cool!.

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2015/04/14/rocket-lab-unveils-battery-powered-motor/#more-55084
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Skyrocket on 04/14/2015 08:57 PM
Electron to use battery powered electric fuel pump. Cool!.

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2015/04/14/rocket-lab-unveils-battery-powered-motor/#more-55084

I wonder, if Ventions' experimental SALVO rocket (built for DARPA) will fly first, which also features electric pumped engines. But they are very secretive about it

http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau/salvo.htm
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: gin455res on 04/14/2015 08:58 PM
'Unlike traditional propulsion cycles based on complex and expensive gas generators, the 4,600 lbf Rutherford adopts an entirely new electric propulsion cycle, making use of high-performance brushless DC electric motors and lithium-polymer batteries to drive its turbopumps.'

wonder what mass fraction this affords compared to pressure and pump fed systems.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/14/2015 09:55 PM
High performance LiPos can do up to 10-20kW/kg. Large gas generators are better but likely don't scale down very well.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 04/14/2015 10:34 PM
Another article covering same stuff.

http://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-unveils-battery-powered-3d-printed-rocket-engine/

The container idea for payloads is interesting. Would allow change of payload or LV on the day.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 04/14/2015 11:14 PM
Electron to use battery powered electric fuel pump. Cool!.

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2015/04/14/rocket-lab-unveils-battery-powered-motor/#more-55084

I wonder, if Ventions' experimental SALVO rocket (built for DARPA) will fly first, which also features electric pumped engines. But they are very secretive about it

http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau/salvo.htm

They've already test flown the engine. I don't think Rocket Lab have flown the Rutherford, have they?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 04/15/2015 12:15 AM
More informative article from Forbes.
110kg to 500km SSO
400kg to LEO
50hp from electric motor size of soda can. (Just what I need for the bike.)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2015/04/14/rocket-lab-unveils-a-3d-printed-battery-powered-rocket-engine/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Prober on 04/15/2015 07:19 PM
Some linkage

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34421.msg1359569#msg1359569
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: R7 on 04/15/2015 07:36 PM
'Unlike traditional propulsion cycles based on complex and expensive gas generators, the 4,600 lbf Rutherford adopts an entirely new electric propulsion cycle, making use of high-performance brushless DC electric motors and lithium-polymer batteries to drive its turbopumps.'

Interesting technology but getting rid of the turbine makes "electric turbopump" an oxymoron.

Wondering what specs high discharge rate batteries have today. First stage requires 20C-30C batteries which won't pack highest specific energies.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 04/16/2015 01:00 AM
Electron to use battery powered electric fuel pump. Cool!.

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2015/04/14/rocket-lab-unveils-battery-powered-motor/#more-55084

I wonder, if Ventions' experimental SALVO rocket (built for DARPA) will fly first, which also features electric pumped engines. But they are very secretive about it

http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau/salvo.htm

They've already test flown the engine. I don't think Rocket Lab have flown the Rutherford, have they?

No, I don't think they have.  AFAIK, they're still working out where to fly from..
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/16/2015 08:12 PM
More informative article from Forbes.
110kg to 500km SSO
400kg to LEO
50hp from electric motor size of soda can. (Just what I need for the bike.)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2015/04/14/rocket-lab-unveils-a-3d-printed-battery-powered-rocket-engine/
http://www.rocketlabusa.com/about-us/propulsion/rutherford/

4600 lbf thrust, 327s ISP  :o

I assume this is the first stage version because 4600*9 is similar to the total thrust claimed for the vehicle, which means even though there's a mass penalty for the batteries, not having to divert any of the propellant flow means it gets expander/staged combustion-like ISP. This beats Merlin 1D by 16 seconds, so the vac version may get 350+ ISP. :o

Thoughts:
-battery contributes to dry mass but I bet it's better than doing the same job with COPV helium in a pressure fed engine, which also has dry mass penalty
-dry mass penalty compared to expander, but comparable ISP, simpler and cheaper to develop and build, and can work with prop combinations like kerolox that don't work with expander

This seems workable for a smallish first stage but it occurs to me this would probably work well for a high energy kick stage on a larger launcher. It could use non-toxic storables like N2O+Propane and outperform a solid kick stage, or it could use cryo propellants like kerolox/methalox and probably get into 350+/360+ territory.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/16/2015 08:15 PM
Interesting technology but getting rid of the turbine makes "electric turbopump" an oxymoron.
Still applicable as the pump is likely a centrifugal turbopump even if it's driven by electricity.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: hkultala on 04/16/2015 08:39 PM
Interesting technology but getting rid of the turbine makes "electric turbopump" an oxymoron.
Still applicable as the pump is likely a centrifugal turbopump even if it's driven by electricity.
The definition of tumbopump is that it has a turbine powering it.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Patchouli on 04/19/2015 02:10 AM
More informative article from Forbes.
110kg to 500km SSO
400kg to LEO
50hp from electric motor size of soda can. (Just what I need for the bike.)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2015/04/14/rocket-lab-unveils-a-3d-printed-battery-powered-rocket-engine/
I figured the electric motor would have been similar in size to what you'd find in a small EV.

I guess since they have a cryogenic fluid LOX available to use as a coolant and the motor only needs to work for a few minutes they can make it much smaller.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: sanman on 04/21/2015 12:09 AM
Interesting technology but getting rid of the turbine makes "electric turbopump" an oxymoron.
Still applicable as the pump is likely a centrifugal turbopump even if it's driven by electricity.
The definition of tumbopump is that it has a turbine powering it.

And for a turbopump too  ;)   (j/k)

But seriously, after just discovering this thread, I want to understand - is the central proposition of this rocket that it uses an electric motor-driven "turbopump" as a simpler substitute for a regular turbopump?  And of course since it's battery-powered, then it's less efficient and can't be scaled up to higher thrust. But does it have other advantages in restartability and reliability? I just wanted to understand the pro's and cons better.

Even if it's kind of weak here on Earth, would it be better suited for the Moon? Could it be used in a lunar lander perhaps, to shuttle between the surface and lunar orbit?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 04/21/2015 12:15 AM
I think a turbopump at that scale would have similar thrust/weight. At least so far, anyway, Firefly might prove otherwise. Even then, RocketLab can expect the electric pump to be more reliable - everything else being equal - and it's certainly an easier way to start than building turbo machinery. As battery technology improves they could scale up.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: sanman on 04/21/2015 12:58 AM
Since restartability and reliability are particularly nice things to have for upper stage or space-based engines, then could this "electric-turbopump" technology find itself a nice niche there?

Would this kind of rocket engine be useful for a space tug, perhaps?

(Gee, it also sounds like a Poor Man's ICBM)  :-X
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Patchouli on 04/21/2015 01:14 AM
Since restartability and reliability are particularly nice things to have for upper stage or space-based engines, then could this "electric-turbopump" technology find itself a nice niche there?

Would this kind of rocket engine be useful for a space tug, perhaps?

(Gee, it also sounds like a Poor Man's ICBM)  :-X

One potential use I can think of is a lighter weight OMS system for orbital vehicles that already have an electrical system capable of charging the high amp battery bank needed for surge power  to operate the pumps.

Ie poor man's OME for RLVs.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: sanman on 04/21/2015 01:51 AM
Well, if this thing can lift 100kg to LEO, then it should be able to lift 6 times that on the Moon. And if it's reliable, restartable, and can be 3D-printed easily, then it sounds like it would be good to support lunar transportation.

A space tug is a reusable vehicle, and likewise so is a lunar shuttle traveling between surface and orbit.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Patchouli on 04/21/2015 02:52 AM
Well, if this thing can lift 100kg to LEO, then it should be able to lift 6 times that on the Moon. And if it's reliable, restartable, and can be 3D-printed easily, then it sounds like it would be good to support lunar transportation.

A space tug is a reusable vehicle, and likewise so is a lunar shuttle traveling between surface and orbit.



They use ten of them to put a payload in LEO nine in the first stage and one in the second.

A small lunar lander the size of the Apollo LEM would only need two or three of the engines.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: sanman on 04/21/2015 03:13 AM
Maybe if composites or alloys could be developed that could function both as structure and as electrical energy storage, then you could make a big rocket stage that could also store lots of electrical energy too. For instance, graphene has very high molecular tensile strength suitable for composites, and yet graphene has also been used to create high-performance capacitors.

http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/graphene-solar-could-be-a-game-changer_100018591/#axzz3Xua8PlE5

Of course, you'd probably have to make sure to always launch in clear weather.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/21/2015 03:46 AM
Call it a "super" pump, in analogy to the distinction between turbocharger and supercharger in an automobile. :)

Actually, that analogy works quite well and carries on to the thermodynamics as well (although a turbocharger kind of works the opposite from a full flow staged combustion turbopump... the turbocharger is powered by the exhaust fed from combustion "chamber" while turbopump often feeds into the combustion chamber). They operate on the same basic principles, they're both turn-y vane-y things.

I'm calling this kind of rocket pump a superpump. Because I can.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/21/2015 04:29 AM
But seriously, after just discovering this thread, I want to understand - is the central proposition of this rocket that it uses an electric motor-driven "turbopump" as a simpler substitute for a regular turbopump?
Sounds like it.

Quote
In an earlier interview, Beck said they elected to use a battery because it offered the best opportunity to reduce costs. “Unless you solve the turbopump problem, it’s really difficult to build a cost-effective system,” he said.

The battery-powered pump, he said, can be easily changed with software, making it far easier to modify. “It takes a really complex thermodynamic problem and turns it into software that’s infinitely tweakable,” he said

link: http://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-unveils-battery-powered-3d-printed-rocket-engine/

But does it have other advantages in restartability and reliability? I just wanted to understand the pro's and cons better.
Should do. A gas generator needs TEA/TEB or something like that to start, which is limited, but if the pumps are battery powered there's no need for anything like that. Electric ignition seems straightforward. So, yeah, extra restarts seems likely.

Even if it's kind of weak here on Earth, would it be better suited for the Moon? Could it be used in a lunar lander perhaps, to shuttle between the surface and lunar orbit?
I've had that thought. If it saves dry mass over pressure fed and gets high end hydrocarbon ISP that's an important improvement over Apollo.

Lunar descent/ascent was all pressure fed hypergols at 311s ISP, it looks like first stage Rutherford engines get 327s ISP in vac, which is extremely good for hydrocarbon, basically staged combustion territory. A larger nozzle should be able to improve that 20+ seconds. With that kind of performance it's not insane to contemplate a fully reusable lander that can do the round trip with one stage.

Combined Apollo descent stage and ascent stage delta-v is a touch less than 5 km/s, which isn't out of the question if you can credibly aspire to 350s.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 04/21/2015 04:54 AM
RP1 is not an ideal fuel lunar landers but the technology could just as easily applied to small methane or LH engines.

 The critical thing is max single burn time for a an application, every minute of energy storage adds mass to batteries.

A lunar landers mission may need to be broken up to sections to allow batteries to recharge.
1) EML1 to LLO
2) Recharge batteries (hours/days?)
3) LLO lunar surface.
4) Recharge
 5) Surface - LLO.
6) Recharge
7) LLO- EML1.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: sanman on 04/21/2015 05:17 AM
Well, if it was an unmanned robot lander/shuttle, then maybe stopping in the middle to recharge like that is perfectly acceptable.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 04/21/2015 06:04 AM
More informative article from Forbes.
110kg to 500km SSO
400kg to LEO
50hp from electric motor size of soda can. (Just what I need for the bike.)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2015/04/14/rocket-lab-unveils-a-3d-printed-battery-powered-rocket-engine/
http://www.rocketlabusa.com/about-us/propulsion/rutherford/

4600 lbf thrust, 327s ISP  :o

I assume this is the first stage version because 4600*9 is similar to the total thrust claimed for the vehicle, which means even though there's a mass penalty for the batteries, not having to divert any of the propellant flow means it gets expander/staged combustion-like ISP. This beats Merlin 1D by 16 seconds, so the vac version may get 350+ ISP. :o

Thoughts:
-battery contributes to dry mass but I bet it's better than doing the same job with COPV helium in a pressure fed engine, which also has dry mass penalty
-dry mass penalty compared to expander, but comparable ISP, simpler and cheaper to develop and build, and can work with prop combinations like kerolox that don't work with expander

This seems workable for a smallish first stage but it occurs to me this would probably work well for a high energy kick stage on a larger launcher. It could use non-toxic storables like N2O+Propane and outperform a solid kick stage, or it could use cryo propellants like kerolox/methalox and probably get into 350+/360+ territory.

It really doesn't make sense to compare Isp of a battery-pumped engine with that of a turbopumped engine.  The energy source for the turbopump goes into the exhaust, tending to decrease the Isp.  That makes it look bad compared to the battery-pumped engine if you just look at Isp.  But really the turbopumped version is much better because the power source for the electric pump has to be carried all the way.  It's kind of like saying we're going to capture the exhaust of a turbopump and keep it onboard -- the Isp number of the engine goes up, but performance goes down.

This also has to be factored in when comparing power density -- even if the battery can hold as much energy per kg as the propellant, the battery gives worse performance because you have to haul the whole battery mass along on the whole trip.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 04/21/2015 09:15 AM
even if the battery can hold as much energy per kg as the propellant, the battery gives worse performance because you have to haul the whole battery mass along on the whole trip.

That's irrelevant. It's the thrust/weight at lift-off that matters, not the thrust/weight at burnout - assuming any sensible trajectory. Creating a small turbopump with similar thrust/weight is a much harder proposition.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 04/21/2015 11:14 AM
I found this paper that compares electric, turbopump and pressure fed engines. Slow read but some very interesting conclusions.

http://www.dima.uniroma1.it:8080/STAFF2/jpp12r3.pdf

1) Electric and turbopump powered LVs far superior to Pressure feed LVs.
2) Not much in it between electric and turbopump, with Turbopump just edging out electric in study.
3) Most surprising of all is that turbopump 1st stage is slightly better than electric, but electric has a superior 2nd stage performance even though batteries need to drive pump for longer.
4) Better engine control with electric as pump speed can be varied under electronic control. No surprise there.

As expected electric will gain from improvements in battery, electronic and motor technologies. This is by far one of the more important advantages, Rocketlab just need to sit back and wait for these improvements. Fitting lighter batteries every year would not cost a lot in R&D plus would be extremely low risk. 
 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: meekGee on 04/21/2015 02:53 PM
Call it a "super" pump, in analogy to the distinction between turbocharger and supercharger in an automobile. :)


Excellent name.

It looks to me like a good replacement for pressure fed engines.   

Controllable, reliable, simple.  Under some circumstances, even rechargeable.

Not scalable though, since the energy density is poor, and especially since in rockets, the thermal energy byproducts are actually used to good benefit (unlike in internal combustion engines)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/21/2015 03:38 PM
RP1 is not an ideal fuel lunar landers but the technology could just as easily applied to small methane or LH engines.
That may not work as well. Pump power goes linearly with volumetric flow rate, so hydrogen would increase battery mass significantly. So would methane, though less so. There's other choices like subcooled propane though.

Also with hydrogen it won't last as long. LOX and LOX-like temperatures are much more manageable.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: acsawdey on 04/21/2015 03:42 PM
I found this paper that compares electric, turbopump and pressure fed engines. Slow read but some very interesting conclusions.

http://www.dima.uniroma1.it:8080/STAFF2/jpp12r3.pdf

1) Electric and turbopump powered LVs far superior to Pressure feed LVs.
2) Not much in it between electric and turbopump, with Turbopump just edging out electric in study.
3) Most surprising of all is that turbopump 1st stage is slightly better than electric, but electric has a superior 2nd stage performance even though batteries need to drive pump for longer.
4) Better engine control with electric as pump speed can be varied under electronic control. No surprise there.

As expected electric will gain from improvements in battery, electronic and motor technologies. This is by far one of the more important advantages, Rocketlab just need to sit back and wait for these improvements. Fitting lighter batteries every year would not cost a lot in R&D plus would be extremely low risk.

That is a really great article. A few comments:

I think the 1st stage vs 2nd stage difference is largely due to the fact that he switches to higher energy density batteries for longer burn times. If somebody developed a better battery (i.e. better combination of high power density and energy density), the 1st stage battery-electric pump lines might move down below the turbopump ones.

He may have artificially hobbled the turbopump. He's assuming a relatively unsophisticated turbopump that uses decomposition of MMH for it's gas source and further requires a cooling water supply that is injected to keep the turbine inlet temperatures in check. A gas generator running on LOX/RP-1 might do better, as might one that has higher temperature metallurgy.

The point for rocket hobbyists is: you can build a pump fed rocket that is within spitting distance of a turbopump system. This is clearly light years ahead of a pressure fed system.
 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: GWH on 04/21/2015 05:03 PM
4) Better engine control with electric as pump speed can be varied under electronic control. No surprise there.

This stands out to me as opening up some interesting avenues, specifically crossfeed of multiple core rockets. Whether via standalone pumps or throttling and split lines I would expect the complexity and development cost of such a system would be greatly reduced when pump flow isn't tied in directly to the engine.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: edkyle99 on 04/21/2015 05:20 PM
I found this paper that compares electric, turbopump and pressure fed engines. Slow read but some very interesting conclusions.

http://www.dima.uniroma1.it:8080/STAFF2/jpp12r3.pdf

1) Electric and turbopump powered LVs far superior to Pressure feed LVs.
2) Not much in it between electric and turbopump, with Turbopump just edging out electric in study.
3) Most surprising of all is that turbopump 1st stage is slightly better than electric, but electric has a superior 2nd stage performance even though batteries need to drive pump for longer.
4) Better engine control with electric as pump speed can be varied under electronic control. No surprise there.

As expected electric will gain from improvements in battery, electronic and motor technologies. This is by far one of the more important advantages, Rocketlab just need to sit back and wait for these improvements. Fitting lighter batteries every year would not cost a lot in R&D plus would be extremely low risk. 
 
Note that this is a comparison with gas generator turbopump engines, which lose several percentage points of efficiency by tossing the turbopump exhaust overboard.  Staged combustion turbopump engines would likely outperform electric pump engines. 

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: acsawdey on 04/21/2015 05:46 PM
I found this paper that compares electric, turbopump and pressure fed engines. Slow read but some very interesting conclusions.

http://www.dima.uniroma1.it:8080/STAFF2/jpp12r3.pdf

1) Electric and turbopump powered LVs far superior to Pressure feed LVs.
2) Not much in it between electric and turbopump, with Turbopump just edging out electric in study.
3) Most surprising of all is that turbopump 1st stage is slightly better than electric, but electric has a superior 2nd stage performance even though batteries need to drive pump for longer.
4) Better engine control with electric as pump speed can be varied under electronic control. No surprise there.

As expected electric will gain from improvements in battery, electronic and motor technologies. This is by far one of the more important advantages, Rocketlab just need to sit back and wait for these improvements. Fitting lighter batteries every year would not cost a lot in R&D plus would be extremely low risk. 
 
Note that this is a comparison with gas generator turbopump engines, which loose several percentage points of efficiency by tossing the turbopump exhaust overboard.  Staged combustion turbopump engines would likely outperform electric pump engines. 

 - Ed Kyle

Compare the development cost of a staged combustion system vs just developing a pump an connecting it to a motor, battery pack, and electronics that you can nearly buy off the shelf. Yes, it gives up some performance. But not nearly so much as going pressure fed. It potentially turns this into another option for the cost and risk tradeoffs. What if it's cheaper to just increase the size of your vehicle by 20% instead of developing and building a staged combustion engine? Tanks and propellant are cheap.

The other thing that would be really interesting for this concept would be some kind of flow battery where the spent electrolytes could be dumped overboard.

I'm looking forward to seeing what happens when RocketLab actually flies this, i.e. will it work, and can they make the economics work.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/21/2015 06:45 PM
It really doesn't make sense to compare Isp of a battery-pumped engine with that of a turbopumped engine.  The energy source for the turbopump goes into the exhaust, tending to decrease the Isp.  That makes it look bad compared to the battery-pumped engine if you just look at Isp.
I agree as far as it goes, but even though the analysis needs to take that into account, it's not like we've used that as a reason to never talk about ISP for pressure fed even though it looks like that has a larger dry mass penalty. There's lots of dimensions to optimizing a rocket. Pressure fed and even solid upper stages are in use in spite of being even worse than electric.

What's interesting is that it may not be that much worse than turbopumps, at much lower cost, and significantly better than other extant technologies. That means it can credibly offer improvement in at least some uses.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/21/2015 10:08 PM
Note that this is a comparison with gas generator turbopump engines, which loose several percentage points of efficiency by tossing the turbopump exhaust overboard.  Staged combustion turbopump engines would likely outperform electric pump engines. 
True of expander as well. But, the costs associated with this are much higher. Faced with developing an engine like that or even just buying RL-10, Orbital went with a solid stage. Electric seems much more economical than any turbopump, especially at small size; Rutherford is pretty close to Kestrel in thrust.

What's impressive isn't just decent performance, but that level of performance with such a cheap engine and quick development program. They did it on startup money.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/22/2015 01:02 AM
Superpumps are not going to ever beat the highest performance turbopump-based cycle, Ed is right.

But of course, a superpump should be easier to develop and fits in well with a fully electrically actuated rocket.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Elmar Moelzer on 04/22/2015 03:25 AM
Not sure if this has been mentioned before, but I can't help thinking that with a hydrolox instead of a kerolox engine, they could have skipped the batteries all together and just used some of the LOX and LH2 from the main fuel tanks in a fuel cell to drive the pump (IIRC, hydrogen fuel cells have a higher power density than batteries as well). That would probably improve the overall system weight of electric pumps quite a bit.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 04/22/2015 03:28 AM
I expect you could make the same argument for an alcohol fuel cell.. and it'd probably run on kero.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/22/2015 03:42 AM
IIRC, hydrogen fuel cells have a higher power density than batteries as well
Don't think this is true.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Burninate on 04/22/2015 03:46 AM
How do electric pumps compare to turbopumps and pressure-fed engines as far as high-frequency throttle response?  Hydrazine RCS thrusters still need a suitably agile replacement.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 04/22/2015 03:48 AM
Not sure if this has been mentioned before, but I can't help thinking that with a hydrolox instead of a kerolox engine, they could have skipped the batteries all together and just used some of the LOX and LH2 from the main fuel tanks in a fuel cell to drive the pump (IIRC, hydrogen fuel cells have a higher power density than batteries as well). That would probably improve the overall system weight of electric pumps quite a bit.
Batteries are a lot cheaper and simple. Plus they get performance increase for free as battery technology improves.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: sanman on 04/22/2015 04:11 AM
Batteries are a lot cheaper and simple. Plus they get performance increase for free as battery technology improves.

Cellphone Batteries => Electric Rockets

Tablets => Glass Cockpit

Any other consumer technologies that can improve aerospace?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jongoff on 04/22/2015 05:58 AM
IIRC, hydrogen fuel cells have a higher power density than batteries as well
Don't think this is true.

Yeah, IIRC higher energy density, much worse power density. At least that's what I understood from Frank Zegler's discussion on IVF on the other thread.

~Jon
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Elmar Moelzer on 04/22/2015 06:11 AM
I expect you could make the same argument for an alcohol fuel cell.. and it'd probably run on kero.
True, but I am not aware of their energy density and efficiency compared to batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. If the thing weights more than the battery, there is no point to it.

IIRC, hydrogen fuel cells have a higher power density than batteries as well
Don't think this is true.
A quick google search reveals a 8 to 10X energy density of fuel cells versus batteries.
Now it is true that batteries have been improving significantly. So that is a valid argument.
Either way, these types of engines might improve with time and fuel types.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Elmar Moelzer on 04/22/2015 06:12 AM
IIRC, hydrogen fuel cells have a higher power density than batteries as well
Don't think this is true.

Yeah, IIRC higher energy density, much worse power density. At least that's what I understood from Frank Zegler's discussion on IVF on the other thread.

~Jon
Ahh, ok. That is interesting! Thanks Jon!
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: sanman on 04/22/2015 06:31 AM
Well, the whole appeal of fuel cells over batteries is their higher energy density, with that energy density depending on what fuel is used.

Usually, the higher the fuel cell's operating temperature, the higher its power output due to faster reaction kinetics. So solid oxide fuel cells, which operate at much higher temperatures than proton exchange membrane, would usually give higher power output.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Patchouli on 04/22/2015 07:27 AM
Batteries are a lot cheaper and simple. Plus they get performance increase for free as battery technology improves.

Cellphone Batteries => Electric Rockets

Tablets => Glass Cockpit

Any other consumer technologies that can improve aerospace?


Actually glass cockpits predate main stream tablets like the ipad by several decades  first appearing in the early 1980s.


Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: sanman on 04/22/2015 08:14 AM
Actually glass cockpits predate main stream tablets like the ipad by several decades  first appearing in the early 1980s.

Heh, okay - I was just remembering that when Musk presented Dragon 2, it looked like the big screens on the inside were just large tablets. It seems like consumer tablet technology is currently evolving much faster than any glass cockpit systems created by aerospace people - but that's just the kinetics of a larger and more active market.

Quote
As for battery technology the energy density of the silver zinc technology previously used in aerospace is not much lower then modern lithium ion batteries.
The biggest problem with the older technology is historically it used mercury and had a very limited  number of recharge cycles.
Interestingly now that those two issues have been solved the technology is now being looked at again as a safer alternative to lithium ion.

Does anyone remember a discovery called "Thermopower Wave"? The extremely high power demand of an electric turbopump sounds like a good fit for it:

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/530346/progress-on-a-powerful-new-way-to-generate-electricity/

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/tech/carbon-nanotube-fuses-unleash-surge-electrons-called-thermopower-wave/

http://www.nature.com/nmat/journal/v9/n5/abs/nmat2714.html

http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/multimedia/2013/feb/19/what-is-a-thermopower-wave
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: R7 on 04/22/2015 11:32 AM
He may have artificially hobbled the turbopump. He's assuming a relatively unsophisticated turbopump that uses decomposition of MMH for it's gas source and further requires a cooling water supply that is injected to keep the turbine inlet temperatures in check. A gas generator running on LOX/RP-1 might do better, as might one that has higher temperature metallurgy.

Yes, comparing modern battery and electric motors against 60s TP with additional water circuit shows heavy bias. There's a crude error too, TP mass is calculated knowing pump power requirement and using pump specific power (22kW/kg) and turbine specific power (18kW/kg) separately. Combined specific power is 9.9kW/kg while their reference NASA SP-8107 shows 17.6kW/kg (10.7hp/lbm) for the entire TPA. LR87 TPA is geared which adds mass further. Single shaft F-1 TPA shows 27kW/kg in the same reference. Modern TPA kW/kg numbers should have three digits before decimal separator like SSME had. Turbine efficiency seems lowballed too, causing higher gg mass penalty than it should be.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: notsorandom on 04/22/2015 01:28 PM
Note that this is a comparison with gas generator turbopump engines, which loose several percentage points of efficiency by tossing the turbopump exhaust overboard.  Staged combustion turbopump engines would likely outperform electric pump engines. 
True of expander as well. But, the costs associated with this are much higher. Faced with developing an engine like that or even just buying RL-10, Orbital went with a solid stage. Electric seems much more economical than any turbopump, especially at small size; Rutherford is pretty close to Kestrel in thrust.

What's impressive isn't just decent performance, but that level of performance with such a cheap engine and quick development program. They did it on startup money.
Expander is a great cycle. It is simple and efficient. There are some major drawbacks though. It has to use cryogenic propellant, either fuel or oxidizer. The colder the better which means LH2 has pretty much been the only one worth using this cycle for. The other drawback is limited thrust these engines can provide. As the thrust increases the heat exchange that drives the cycle becomes less effective.

Hydrogen is a more expensive fuel to use than RP-1 so I can understand why they chose not to use it. I would bet that the extra difficulties in designing and building an LH2 pump outweigh the simplicity of designing an expander cycle. Based on the DC-X which was powered by four RL-10s a small team can effectively use a hydrogen expander rocket. However they were able to use off the shelf engines and didn't have to design and build it themselves.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Burninate on 04/22/2015 01:36 PM
I expect you could make the same argument for an alcohol fuel cell.. and it'd probably run on kero.
True, but I am not aware of their energy density and efficiency compared to batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. If the thing weights more than the battery, there is no point to it.

IIRC, hydrogen fuel cells have a higher power density than batteries as well
Don't think this is true.
A quick google search reveals a 8 to 10X energy density of fuel cells versus batteries.
Now it is true that batteries have been improving significantly. So that is a valid argument.
Either way, these types of engines might improve with time and fuel types.

This is likely hydrogen fuel cells at some given pressure reacting with atmospheric oxygen through a PEM, and being said to contain lots of energy per unit mass of hydrogen.  That's not a valid number on a spacecraft where there is no atmosphere.

Aside from that:
Fuel cells and flow batteries dis-aggregate the association between discharge rate and capacity that exists with batteries.  It is possible to design one that uses all its energy storage arbitrarily fast, at the expense of increased total system mass without increased energy storage.

AFAICT, the only big improvements on lithium ion batteries in the last ten years have been increasing the safe charge & discharge rate by a factor of five or ten in LiPos with new anode & cathode chemistries.  This has been basically irrelevant for battery life, and affects only high-power applications, and possibly but not definitely charging rates.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Patchouli on 04/22/2015 04:47 PM

This is likely hydrogen fuel cells at some given pressure reacting with atmospheric oxygen through a PEM, and being said to contain lots of energy per unit mass of hydrogen.  That's not a valid number on a spacecraft where there is no atmosphere.

Aside from that:
Fuel cells and flow batteries dis-aggregate the association between discharge rate and capacity that exists with batteries.  It is possible to design one that uses all its energy storage arbitrarily fast, at the expense of increased total system mass without increased energy storage.

AFAICT, the only big improvements on lithium ion batteries in the last ten years have been increasing the safe charge & discharge rate by a factor of five or ten in LiPos with new anode & cathode chemistries.  This has been basically irrelevant for battery life, and affects only high-power applications, and possibly but not definitely charging rates.

Another improvement to battery technology is renewed interest in silver zinc chemistry due to recent improvements to the technology.
They're safer due to a water based electrolyte that is not flammable and now that mercury is no longer needed are more environmentally friendly.
Wh per kg is somewhat worse about the same as mid range LiPos but Wh per liter is much better.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/22/2015 05:01 PM
IIRC, hydrogen fuel cells have a higher power density than batteries as well
Don't think this is true.
A quick google search reveals a 8 to 10X energy density of fuel cells versus batteries.
You said power density not energy density, which are different things.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: RanulfC on 04/22/2015 06:06 PM
Actually glass cockpits predate main stream tablets like the ipad by several decades  first appearing in the early 1980s.

Heh, okay - I was just remembering that when Musk presented Dragon 2, it looked like the big screens on the inside were just large tablets. It seems like consumer tablet technology is currently evolving much faster than any glass cockpit systems created by aerospace people - but that's just the kinetics of a larger and more active market.

More accurately maybe; Tablets=No Cockpit? :)
(Imagine a capsule in orbit tumbling around as the "pilot" curses "Who the [email protected]#%^ is playing KSP while hooked into the capsule WiFi????" :) )

Randy
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: RanulfC on 04/22/2015 06:13 PM
How's the comparison with something like decomposed H2O2 run through a turbopump and then into the combustion chamber similar to a staged combustion engine?

(Yes I have a specific engine in mind :) )

Randy
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Elmar Moelzer on 04/22/2015 06:33 PM
IIRC, hydrogen fuel cells have a higher power density than batteries as well
Don't think this is true.
A quick google search reveals a 8 to 10X energy density of fuel cells versus batteries.
You said power density not energy density, which are different things.
Yeah, sloppy writing there on my side.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/22/2015 07:16 PM
That is a key difference. Fuel cells have much worse power density than LiPos. (A couple orders of magnitude difference, comparing a hobby LiPo to a typical aerospace fuel cell.)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/22/2015 09:12 PM
AFAICT, the only big improvements on lithium ion batteries in the last ten years have been increasing the safe charge & discharge rate by a factor of five or ten in LiPos with new anode & cathode chemistries.  This has been basically irrelevant for battery life, and affects only high-power applications, and possibly but not definitely charging rates.
Disagree, lithium ion has an improvement rate of 5+ percent annually, doubling time is <15 years. When did the first 2 AH 18650 cell come out, after 2000? You can get over 4 AH now.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jongoff on 04/22/2015 09:55 PM
This might belong elsewhere, but I wanted to comment:

Expander is a great cycle. It is simple and efficient. There are some major drawbacks though. It has to use cryogenic propellant, either fuel or oxidizer. The colder the better which means LH2 has pretty much been the only one worth using this cycle for. The other drawback is limited thrust these engines can provide. As the thrust increases the heat exchange that drives the cycle becomes less effective.

While expander cycles typically run cryogenic, they don't theoretically have to. Typically you want to run the coolant at pressures high enough to be supercritical, and the critical pressure for kerosene is only 150psi. I remember hearing that someone (P&W I think) was doing work on a Kersosene expander using some of the techniques they had learned from scramjet research to avoid coking in the cooling channels. You probably couldn't bootstrap such a cycle like you could a more traditional cryogenic expander cycle engine, where latent heat in the engine provides enough energy to start the ball moving, but otherwise it might be perfectly workable. And since kerosene is like 10-12x higher density than LH2, it means that far less of your pump energy is going into pumping the fuel, so a kerosene expander should be able to go a lot higher thrust than a hydrogen expander, and there were already concepts for driving expander cycles closer to 60-100klbf.

All that said, I really like the electropump and agree for small sizes they look really interesting.

~Jon
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/23/2015 03:38 AM
All that said, I really like the electropump and agree for small sizes they look really interesting.
It seems like a really good illustration of the principle that it's advantageous to use a technology that can be brought to market quickly with low cost.

There's a number of expanders (MB-60/RL-60, XCOR, Vinci) that have spent a long time in development and likely won't fly for years more, often stalling due to lack of funding, while it looks like Rutherford's development cycle was extremely quick on the strength of a few rounds of venture funding and we may see one in orbit this year.

It's true Rutherford is smaller than any of those, but it's pinned to technologies that improve themselves without any input from the space industry. I think the area of usefulness will tend to increase over time.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 04/23/2015 03:40 AM
It certainly doesn't make sense to spend a lot of money on tech development when you don't have the experience to cash in on it. Whether or not we'll see this engine fly is still a question.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/23/2015 04:56 AM
It certainly doesn't make sense to spend a lot of money on tech development when you don't have the experience to cash in on it.
Agreed, but the development on expander looks borderline unaffordable even for the incumbents.

These 10+ year development cycles are bad news. Things change. Assumptions that made sense at the outset can get invalidated by the time you're done, then some or all of the investment can get stranded. Constant payments over that long even if they're small can add up to a lot and could well have gotten better returns elsewhere, especially if the engine ends up getting canceled, as so many engines do. You can pay more to accelerate development but then the bill is due all at once, harder to fund it out of existing revenue streams.

Conversely a quick, cheap development cycle that starts providing returns sooner may well be the better investment, even if the performance isn't as good.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: notsorandom on 04/23/2015 03:05 PM
This might belong elsewhere, but I wanted to comment:

Expander is a great cycle. It is simple and efficient. There are some major drawbacks though. It has to use cryogenic propellant, either fuel or oxidizer. The colder the better which means LH2 has pretty much been the only one worth using this cycle for. The other drawback is limited thrust these engines can provide. As the thrust increases the heat exchange that drives the cycle becomes less effective.

While expander cycles typically run cryogenic, they don't theoretically have to. Typically you want to run the coolant at pressures high enough to be supercritical, and the critical pressure for kerosene is only 150psi. I remember hearing that someone (P&W I think) was doing work on a Kersosene expander using some of the techniques they had learned from scramjet research to avoid coking in the cooling channels. You probably couldn't bootstrap such a cycle like you could a more traditional cryogenic expander cycle engine, where latent heat in the engine provides enough energy to start the ball moving, but otherwise it might be perfectly workable. And since kerosene is like 10-12x higher density than LH2, it means that far less of your pump energy is going into pumping the fuel, so a kerosene expander should be able to go a lot higher thrust than a hydrogen expander, and there were already concepts for driving expander cycles closer to 60-100klbf.

All that said, I really like the electropump and agree for small sizes they look really interesting.

~Jon
That is interesting that RP-1 can be used in an expander. If I remember right volume is what drive the power requirement on a turbo pump and not mass. So that using the same pump and power a higher density propellant would pump more mass. Does the phase change of RP-1 give less power than LH2? If so is that more than made up for by RP-1's higher density needing less power to pump? Also if one were designing an RP-1/LOX expander why not just use LOX?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: simonbp on 04/23/2015 03:13 PM
It certainly doesn't make sense to spend a lot of money on tech development when you don't have the experience to cash in on it. Whether or not we'll see this engine fly is still a question.

Given RocketLab's history I'm sure it will fly at least once, the question is whether they will actually be able to fly paying customers.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: R7 on 04/23/2015 06:53 PM
Disagree, lithium ion has an improvement rate of 5+ percent annually, doubling time is <15 years. When did the first 2 AH 18650 cell come out, after 2000? You can get over 4 AH now.

A reference for genuine >4Ah 18650, please. Haven't seen anything above 3.4Ah Panasonic cell that isn't fake Chinese crap.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jongoff on 04/23/2015 08:54 PM
This might belong elsewhere, but I wanted to comment:

Expander is a great cycle. It is simple and efficient. There are some major drawbacks though. It has to use cryogenic propellant, either fuel or oxidizer. The colder the better which means LH2 has pretty much been the only one worth using this cycle for. The other drawback is limited thrust these engines can provide. As the thrust increases the heat exchange that drives the cycle becomes less effective.

While expander cycles typically run cryogenic, they don't theoretically have to. Typically you want to run the coolant at pressures high enough to be supercritical, and the critical pressure for kerosene is only 150psi. I remember hearing that someone (P&W I think) was doing work on a Kersosene expander using some of the techniques they had learned from scramjet research to avoid coking in the cooling channels. You probably couldn't bootstrap such a cycle like you could a more traditional cryogenic expander cycle engine, where latent heat in the engine provides enough energy to start the ball moving, but otherwise it might be perfectly workable. And since kerosene is like 10-12x higher density than LH2, it means that far less of your pump energy is going into pumping the fuel, so a kerosene expander should be able to go a lot higher thrust than a hydrogen expander, and there were already concepts for driving expander cycles closer to 60-100klbf.

All that said, I really like the electropump and agree for small sizes they look really interesting.

~Jon
That is interesting that RP-1 can be used in an expander. If I remember right volume is what drive the power requirement on a turbo pump and not mass. So that using the same pump and power a higher density propellant would pump more mass. Does the phase change of RP-1 give less power than LH2? If so is that more than made up for by RP-1's higher density needing less power to pump? Also if one were designing an RP-1/LOX expander why not just use LOX?

To be honest, I'm not much of turbopump guy or thermodynamicist. I just used to build rocket engines (pressure-fed ones).

~Jon
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/24/2015 12:00 AM
Disagree, lithium ion has an improvement rate of 5+ percent annually, doubling time is <15 years. When did the first 2 AH 18650 cell come out, after 2000? You can get over 4 AH now.

A reference for genuine >4Ah 18650, please. Haven't seen anything above 3.4Ah Panasonic cell that isn't fake Chinese crap.
Here's one for 3600mAh and is real:
http://lygte-info.dk/review/batteries2012/Orbtronic%2018650%203600mAh%20%28Black%29%20UK.html

I believe the 4000mAh Panasonic ones are being sampled now, even if they haven't been officially released.

Anyway, the point is still valid: Battery energy density HAS been significantly increasing as time goes on and is likely to continue (although I don't think Li-Ion will /ever/ more than double again from the current state of the art, there are other battery chemistries that can continue the progress).
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: acsawdey on 04/24/2015 03:31 AM
You need much smaller cells than the 18650 to get the required power density. The panasonic 3400mAh cells are 2C discharge rate, or about 23W per cell. To get the megawatt needed for the Electron, that's 43252 cells which at a weight of 46g each gives a pack weight of 2000kg just for the cells. You can do better with the stuff I found on hobbyking (small 20C Li poly cells).
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/24/2015 03:36 AM
You need much smaller cells than the 18650 to get the required power density. The panasonic 3400mAh cells are 2C discharge rate, or about 23W per cell. To get the megawatt needed for the Electron, that's 43252 cells which at a weight of 46g each gives a pack weight of 2000kg just for the cells. You can do better with the stuff I found on hobbyking (small 20C Li poly cells).
Of course. You would use those 100-150C hobby LiPos.

I was merely countering the idea that battery specific energy has not markedly improved over the introduction and widespread use of lithium ion batteries. Specific energy has about doubled and could possibly nearly double again (eventually), though my guess is that most of the new improvements will come from switching to another chemistry.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: R7 on 04/24/2015 03:45 AM
Disagree, lithium ion has an improvement rate of 5+ percent annually, doubling time is <15 years. When did the first 2 AH 18650 cell come out, after 2000? You can get over 4 AH now.

A reference for genuine >4Ah 18650, please. Haven't seen anything above 3.4Ah Panasonic cell that isn't fake Chinese crap.
Here's one for 3600mAh and is real:
http://lygte-info.dk/review/batteries2012/Orbtronic%2018650%203600mAh%20%28Black%29%20UK.html

I believe the 4000mAh Panasonic ones are being sampled now, even if they haven't been officially released.

Anyway, the point is still valid: Battery energy density HAS been significantly increasing as time goes on and is likely to continue (although I don't think Li-Ion will /ever/ more than double again from the current state of the art, there are other battery chemistries that can continue the progress).

Thanks! I was not countering the idea of battery improvements as surely even 3.4 was bigger number than 2 but was interested if even better cells are really available because might myself be interested in buying them if the price is right. Bought some 18650 and 26650 flashlights last winter and found the hard way that those cheap Ebay Chinese 8000mAh 18650s are cack. Wiser now, Korean 2600mAh cells had Wh/$ sweet spot.

What's the best specific energy primary battery chemistry today with adequate discharge rate? Just wondering what they use in second stage.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/24/2015 03:51 AM
I believe the 4000mAh Panasonic ones are being sampled now, even if they haven't been officially released.
Ah, thanks. I had seen 4120 mah for those. Also didn't realize they were sampling rather than being generally available. Mea culpa. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I was merely countering the idea that battery specific energy has not markedly improved over the introduction and widespread use of lithium ion batteries.
Yes. Picking a specific form factor is useful to track progress over time, and 18650 is perhaps the most common.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: acsawdey on 04/24/2015 03:55 AM
You need much smaller cells than the 18650 to get the required power density. The panasonic 3400mAh cells are 2C discharge rate, or about 23W per cell. To get the megawatt needed for the Electron, that's 43252 cells which at a weight of 46g each gives a pack weight of 2000kg just for the cells. You can do better with the stuff I found on hobbyking (small 20C Li poly cells).
Of course. You would use those 100-150C hobby LiPos.

I was merely countering the idea that battery specific energy has not markedly improved over the introduction and widespread use of lithium ion batteries. Specific energy has about doubled and could possibly nearly double again (eventually), though my guess is that most of the new improvements will come from switching to another chemistry.

Completely agree. Li-ion theoretical limit is something like 406 Wh/kg, and those 18650's are at around 250. There are experimental cells that approach the limit, but only at very low discharge rates (0.1C). So, that's what will probably continue to improve, getting more power density without giving up energy density.

The competitive pressure to improve these things is intense, given how important they are to the performance/useability of smartphones, laptops, and EVs. And improving the capacity at high discharge rates really means lowering the internal resistance, which makes the cell more efficient for a lot of uses. So there is pressure to do that.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/24/2015 04:29 AM
What's the best specific energy primary battery chemistry today with adequate discharge rate? Just wondering what they use in second stage.
Linked earlier: http://www.dima.uniroma1.it:8080/STAFF2/jpp12r3.pdf

Relevant to your question is Figure 2 on page 33, it varies based on burn time, and as you suggest the longer burn time does change the optimal choice. I'd assume that graph changes over time as new battery technology becomes available and Rocket Lab will update as appropriate.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/24/2015 03:22 PM
I was merely countering the idea that battery specific energy has not markedly improved over the introduction and widespread use of lithium ion batteries. Specific energy has about doubled and could possibly nearly double again (eventually), though my guess is that most of the new improvements will come from switching to another chemistry.
Yeah, that about lines up with my understanding. Other chemistries like lithium sulfur potentially get into kwh/kg territory but have to nail down side reactions that limit cell life, though I think rockets can tolerate lower cell life than cars, even if they want to be reusable.

Lithium sulfur has lower instantaneous power as the above paper calls out, currently needs a burn time over 600 seconds to break even, though you'd expect that to improve over time.

For plain old lithium ion (or polymer) though, my take is that if it's marginal now when you save a ton of money on other complexity, a factor of 2, or even 5% per year for a few years, is actually pretty substantial. In an industry where RL-10 can be king of the hill well into its 5th decade, 5% a year is huge.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/25/2015 04:45 AM
Trying to take a stab at the second stage ISP they're getting based on the pictures on the website...

http://www.rocketlabusa.com/static/images/first-stage-hi.png
http://www.rocketlabusa.com/static/images/second-stage-hi.png

Scaling the second stage picture so the combustion chamber is the same number of pixels across as the first stage, I get 160 and 365 pixels across for the nozzle so the expansion ratio from that would be something like 5.5x larger.

Taking a stab at sea level expansion ratio, looks like something like 12. Which would suggest a chamber pressure on the low side, like maybe 800 psi or less. That makes sense if there's a large mass penalty for increasing pump power.

Getting to upper stage ISP from this info is over my head.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Katana on 04/26/2015 06:41 AM
Trying to take a stab at the second stage ISP they're getting based on the pictures on the website...

http://www.rocketlabusa.com/static/images/first-stage-hi.png
http://www.rocketlabusa.com/static/images/second-stage-hi.png

Two large battery packs? much heavier than engine. May also be more heavy than 2nd stage tank.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/26/2015 01:31 PM
You do realize that good LiPos can get upwards of 5-10kW/kg, right? That's much, much better than the engine in your car, I guarantee it.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/26/2015 03:33 PM
Two large battery packs?
How do you know that?

If all non-fuel stuff is represented there presumably there's a pressurized pod for avionics.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Katana on 04/26/2015 09:14 PM
You do realize that good LiPos can get upwards of 5-10kW/kg, right? That's much, much better than the engine in your car, I guarantee it.
http://www.a123systems.com/prismatic-cell-ahp14.htm

A123 best 4kw/kg plus

36kwe 9kg, 100kwe 25kg.
Which is correct? Engine 36kee but first stage 1Mwe from different news
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Katana on 04/26/2015 09:19 PM
Two large battery packs?
How do you know that?

If all non-fuel stuff is represented there presumably there's a pressurized pod for avionics.

Should be so, compared to calculated weight.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: acsawdey on 04/26/2015 11:38 PM
Trying to take a stab at the second stage ISP they're getting based on the pictures on the website...

http://www.rocketlabusa.com/static/images/first-stage-hi.png
http://www.rocketlabusa.com/static/images/second-stage-hi.png

Scaling the second stage picture so the combustion chamber is the same number of pixels across as the first stage, I get 160 and 365 pixels across for the nozzle so the expansion ratio from that would be something like 5.5x larger.

Taking a stab at sea level expansion ratio, looks like something like 12. Which would suggest a chamber pressure on the low side, like maybe 800 psi or less. That makes sense if there's a large mass penalty for increasing pump power.

Getting to upper stage ISP from this info is over my head.

On the subject of pump power, would it make sense to run the first stage engines on a profile such you gradually throttle back as atmospheric pressure and vehicle weight reduces? What's the exit pressure that goes with your 800 psi and a 12:1 nozzle?

Normally under-expanded exhaust just means you're not getting the most out of your propellant, but for this engine it also means you spent too much electrical power (and battery weight) running at that chamber pressure. There must be a point at which the weight penalty for additional battery power to run at a higher chamber pressure isn't offset by reduced gravity loss from the increased thrust.

If those two pods are the battery packs for the second stage, where did they put all the batteries for the first stage? At the top of the first stage to help aerodynamic stability (move cg up closer to cp as tanks empty)? Supposing that the 2nd stage burn was 3x as long as the first stage, you'd still need 3x more batteries on the first stage.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/27/2015 01:03 AM
On the subject of pump power, would it make sense to run the first stage engines on a profile such you gradually throttle back as atmospheric pressure and vehicle weight reduces?
I see what you're talking about, this can probably be answered with a spreadsheet but not a spreadsheet I have. :)

What's the exit pressure that goes with your 800 psi and a 12:1 nozzle?
I'm not actually sure, I'm basically scaling from Merlin 1C. 12:1 would be 66 psi or so, but isn't there a Bernoulli thing going on here as well since the exhaust velocity is large?

Your question reminded me of a picture that was posted of a Rutherford test. Googled some pictures... here's a comparison to Merlin:

https://qzprod.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/rutherford-test.jpg
http://33.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m67uwzl0N01rti11fo1_1280.jpg

Merlin is a little under-expanded as can be seen from the exhaust continuing to expand, but Rutherford actually pinches in a little which suggests it's a little over-expanded. This can be gotten away with to an extent if care is taken with the nozzle design, I think SSME did this. That might suggest an even lower chamber pressure, like maybe 500 psi. That's still much higher than pressure fed, the examples I've looked at are <200 psi.

Normally under-expanded exhaust just means you're not getting the most out of your propellant, but for this engine it also means you spent too much electrical power (and battery weight) running at that chamber pressure. There must be a point at which the weight penalty for additional battery power to run at a higher chamber pressure isn't offset by reduced gravity loss from the increased thrust.
Yup, can be traded with nozzle mass as well. This point is well taken.

If those two pods are the battery packs for the second stage, where did they put all the batteries for the first stage?
Inside the carbon fiber body somewhere? The exterior is too crowded on the first stage and it needs to be aerodynamic for supersonic flight.

Supposing that the 2nd stage burn was 3x as long as the first stage, you'd still need 3x more batteries on the first stage.
3x per engine you mean? Agreed, but there's a trade there, see the linked paper. Since the discharge time is longer it may allow a different chemistry with better specific energy and worse specific power.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Katana on 04/27/2015 01:21 AM
1/3 per engine, 9 engines, 3x total
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: acsawdey on 04/27/2015 01:48 AM
What's the exit pressure that goes with your 800 psi and a 12:1 nozzle?
I'm not actually sure, I'm basically scaling from Merlin 1C. 12:1 would be 66 psi or so, but isn't there a Bernoulli thing going on here as well since the exhaust velocity is large?

Your question reminded me of a picture that was posted of a Rutherford test. Googled some pictures... here's a comparison to Merlin:

https://qzprod.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/rutherford-test.jpg
http://33.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m67uwzl0N01rti11fo1_1280.jpg

Merlin is a little under-expanded as can be seen from the exhaust continuing to expand, but Rutherford actually pinches in a little which suggests it's a little over-expanded. This can be gotten away with to an extent if care is taken with the nozzle design, I think SSME did this. That might suggest an even lower chamber pressure, like maybe 500 psi. That's still much higher than pressure fed, the examples I've looked at are <200 psi.

I suspect this model is a bit of an educational toy: http://exploration.grc.nasa.gov/education/rocket/ienzl.html (http://exploration.grc.nasa.gov/education/rocket/ienzl.html)

But if you turn the knobs to make it look like rutherford (kerolox, Pc 800 psi, 12:1 expansion, scale throat area to 3.81 in^2 for 4600 lbf sea level thrust) you get exhaust pressure about 7psi, which goes with your over-expanded observation.

This model only gives 270/309 Isp split for the 1st stage engine though. I guess we conclude that the 327 Isp on their web site is for the vacuum version? If you increase the area ratio to 39 in vacuum, this model gives 327 and 5300lbf for the same chamber pressure.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/27/2015 02:08 AM
This model only gives 270/309 Isp split for the 1st stage engine though. I guess we conclude that the 327 Isp on their web site is for the vacuum version? If you increase the area ratio to 39 in vacuum, this model gives 327 and 5300lbf for the same chamber pressure.
Not sure about this. From how the page is worded I got the impression their specs were for the sea level engine in vacuum.

http://www.rocketlabusa.com/about-us/propulsion/rutherford/ - "The Rutherford Engine is an electric turbo-pumped LOX/RP-1 engine specifically designed for the Electron launch vehicle, capable of 4,600 lbf thrust and with an ISP of 327 s."

4600 * 9 is pretty close to the vac thrust given for the first stage of 40000 lbf, so that makes me think 327s is for the first stage in vac, but this is definitely worth questioning.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: R7 on 04/27/2015 07:30 AM
Merlin is a little under-expanded as can be seen from the exhaust continuing to expand,

At SL, no. Over-expanded like all booster engines.


Quote
but Rutherford actually pinches in a little which suggests it's a little over-expanded. This can be gotten away with to an extent if care is taken with the nozzle design, I think SSME did this. That might suggest an even lower chamber pressure, like maybe 500 psi.

You can over-expand at SL without nozzle tricks to a certain limit (~0.5atm), the limit depends on the propellants used. SSME nozzle lip tricks pushed that limit even further.

The data on Rocketlabs page seems a bit self-contradictory;

Quote
Electron’s first stage is powered by multiple Rutherford engines with a total peak thrust of 146.6kN, enough to lift a fully laden double decker bus off the ground.

• Lift off thrust: 152kN (34,500lbf)
Peak thrust: 183kN (41,500lbf)


If the 327s is achieved with the higher value denoting first stage vacuum thrust then SL Isp is 272s assuming same throttle setting. The drop is quite high suggesting low chamber pressure and higher area ratio.

I can't get anything close to 327s vacuum performance with 800psi and 12:1 in RPA. 269s/310s when real losses are estimated into the figures.




Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: acsawdey on 04/27/2015 01:49 PM

I can't get anything close to 327s vacuum performance with 800psi and 12:1 in RPA. 269s/310s when real losses are estimated into the figures.

It seems to me that the vacuum ISP will largely depend on the expansion ratio if you're not talking about changing fuels. The toy model was pretty close to RPA for this, it seems as it got 270/309. I had to push the expansion ratio up to 39:1 to get 327 vacuum ISP. So, either the 12:1 is wrong, or the 327 ISP is for the vacuum version with the bigger bell.

The expansion ratio you can get away with (SSME tricks notwithstanding) seems to be largely governed by by the chamber pressure -- higher chamber pressure means you can have more expansion and still have 0.5atm exit pressure. However they can't be playing too many tricks with that as they quote a vacuum thrust that's higher than the takeoff thrust. So they can't have dropped the chamber pressure much.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 04/27/2015 05:12 PM
At SL, no. Over-expanded like all booster engines.
Interesting, thanks.

I can't get anything close to 327s vacuum performance with 800psi and 12:1 in RPA. 269s/310s when real losses are estimated into the figures.
Interesting. I think it's even harder to argue for a really high chamber pressure so that may have to be considered ISP with the vac nozzle.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 05/02/2015 05:35 AM
$4.9M for 100 kg to SSO is $49,000 a kg. That's not cheap!
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: a_langwich on 05/02/2015 07:18 AM
$4.9M for 100 kg to SSO is $49,000 a kg. That's not cheap!

The small launchers usually aren't trying to compete on a $/kg basis, but on overall launch cost.  As a secondary payload, your launch schedule is competely at the mercy of the primary.  And the primary has veto power over major characteristics of your design that might introduce risk to them (see, for example, the unwillingness of any primary payload to host a Lunar X-prize competitor as a secondary because of the risks).

So it makes sense that at least some customers would be happy to have a launch to themselves, and would pay the extra price for that. 

An automobile costs more $/people-km than a bus, but people still ride around in cars because they can provide similar flexibility in schedule and specific destination, right?

The other argument is that if your spacecraft fits in 100 kg, $4.9M is a lot cheaper than $61M for a Falcon 9 or $40M for a Pegasus. 

How many people fit into this market is the open question, and the answer may change over the next few years in unpredictable ways.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Kryten on 07/01/2015 02:15 PM
 A launchsite has been selected (http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/69859442/rocket-lab-eyes-birdlings-flat-canterbury-as-launch-site); Birdling's Flat, Caterbury, South Island.
Quote
Beck said preparations were under way to submit resource consent applications to Christchurch City Council for the launch site.
[..]
Initially Rocket Lab would launch one rocket a month, but aimed to increase frequency to one a week using a number of sites. Beck said.
Doesn't sound like 2015 launch is feasible if applications are still going through, but it's still being given on their site. No date is given in the article itself.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: BowShock on 07/01/2015 02:18 PM
Looks like they've selected a launch site; near Christchurch.  The article indicates the launch vehicle will also be produced in Christchurch - not Auckland.  Seems like an ideal location with wide open flight azimuths.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11473933

Quote
The company's chief executive, Peter Beck said the area met all the firm's requirements; a sparse population, a launch path over the ocean and proximity to a city where the 18m tall Electron Rockets can be built.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: gin455res on 07/01/2015 05:51 PM
At SL, no. Over-expanded like all booster engines.
Interesting, thanks.

I can't get anything close to 327s vacuum performance with 800psi and 12:1 in RPA. 269s/310s when real losses are estimated into the figures.
Interesting. I think it's even harder to argue for a really high chamber pressure so that may have to be considered ISP with the vac nozzle.

I take it the energy added by pumping is so small it wouldn't add even one second of isp?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: acsawdey on 07/01/2015 07:18 PM
I take it the energy added by pumping is so small it wouldn't add even one second of isp?

Higher chamber pressure helps because you can use a larger area ratio without becoming excessively over-expanded at sea level, which then helps the vacuum Isp. However if we're assuming the area ratio is fixed at 12:1 based on estimates from photographs, then increasing chamber pressure doesn't help much. You put energy in when you pump up to the chamber pressure, and you get much of that back from the expansion, however the pump isn't 100% efficient and I don't know what other second order factors come into play.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jamesh9000 on 07/01/2015 10:43 PM
I live in Christchurch! If this actually happens I can go out and take photos and videos. But, like all space startups, I'm not holding my breath. Really hoping this goes ahead though.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/02/2015 02:59 AM
Here is a more informative article from spacenews.

http://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-selects-new-zealand-launch-site/

Still targetting end of year launch.

The launch facilities shouldn't take to long to build looking at artists drawing. Obtaining resource consent maybe an issue, only takes one determined person opposing it to throw a spanner in the works.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: MATTBLAK on 07/02/2015 03:26 AM
The N.Z. Green Party is already combating the project, saying the facilities and launches will endanger a small native lizard and too many toxins will get into the landscape :(

http://www.3news.co.nz/nznews/greens-rocket-concerns-blasted-into-orbit-2015070211#axzz3ejE3xvpl
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: gin455res on 07/02/2015 04:55 PM
I take it the energy added by pumping is so small it wouldn't add even one second of isp?

Higher chamber pressure helps because you can use a larger area ratio without becoming excessively over-expanded at sea level, which then helps the vacuum Isp. However if we're assuming the area ratio is fixed at 12:1 based on estimates from photographs, then increasing chamber pressure doesn't help much. You put energy in when you pump up to the chamber pressure, and you get much of that back from the expansion, however the pump isn't 100% efficient and I don't know what other second order factors come into play.

I meant the electro-chemical energy added to the propellants that was in the batteries, which is going to theoretically increase the ISP. Normally, pumps take the energy from the propellant. The electric pump doesn't. But the energy density of the batteries is still tiny compared to the energy density of kerosene, even when you divide it be 3-4 (to account for the oxidiser weight). I was just wondering if it would be measurable?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: gin455res on 07/02/2015 05:21 PM
I wonder if having a large battery pack in orbit would enable any 'pulsed' (once per n orbits) hybrid electro-thermal/chemical systems.

for example:

1)The battery pack is charged by some robust solar panels, once full, slightly before perigee some nitrogen N2O4 is pumped through an electro-thermal heater and decomposed into hot pressurised NO2, this is then burnt with fuel.

2) same idea but with ammonia being pressurised and disassociated  electro-thermally before combustion with an oxidizer. 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: acsawdey on 07/02/2015 06:44 PM
I meant the electro-chemical energy added to the propellants that was in the batteries, which is going to theoretically increase the ISP. Normally, pumps take the energy from the propellant. The electric pump doesn't. But the energy density of the batteries is still tiny compared to the energy density of kerosene, even when you divide it be 3-4 (to account for the oxidiser weight). I was just wondering if it would be measurable?

Sure. Consider a gas-generator cycle: the propellants burned in the gas generator then have some energy extracted by the power turbine that drives the pumps, and further may not be expanded nearly as much as propellant burned in the main combustion chamber. So the exhaust velocity from the gas generator stream will be lower than the main combustion stream. The Isp will be reduced by this, compared to the electric pump where the energy to run the pumps is coming from an external source and all the propellant is burned in the main combustion chamber.

The most extreme example to give might be a nuclear thermal rocket. Here you have a component (nuclear core) that contributes to the weight of the engine but does not lose weight (ok, a tiny amount of mass is converted to energy by the fission or fusion reactions). So, this mass, like that of the batteries, contributes to the engine mass and reduces thrust/weight ratio but does not figure in Isp.

Now, what would be nifty for the battery system would be to use some kind of flow battery system where the spent electrolytes could be dumped or even burned or vaporized in the engine somehow for additional mass flow and more thrust.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/03/2015 01:03 AM
Another news article on this.
Sorry about the idiot presenter, he is one of reasons I hardly watch broadcast TV anymore especially the news.

http://www.3news.co.nz/tvshows/paulhenry/interviews/why-rocket-lab-picked-new-zealand#axzz3eml30ApN
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Katana on 07/03/2015 04:04 AM
I wonder if having a large battery pack in orbit would enable any 'pulsed' (once per n orbits) hybrid electro-thermal/chemical systems.

for example:

1)The battery pack is charged by some robust solar panels, once full, slightly before perigee some nitrogen N2O4 is pumped through an electro-thermal heater and decomposed into hot pressurised NO2, this is then burnt with fuel.

2) same idea but with ammonia being pressurised and disassociated  electro-thermally before combustion with an oxidizer.

Electro thermal hydrazine thrusters has been used on satellite for decades.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: gin455res on 07/05/2015 10:02 AM
I wonder if having a large battery pack in orbit would enable any 'pulsed' (once per n orbits) hybrid electro-thermal/chemical systems.

for example:

1)The battery pack is charged by some robust solar panels, once full, slightly before perigee some nitrogen N2O4 is pumped through an electro-thermal heater and decomposed into hot pressurised NO2, this is then burnt with fuel.

2) same idea but with ammonia being pressurised and disassociated  electro-thermally before combustion with an oxidizer.

Electro thermal hydrazine thrusters has been used on satellite for decades.

sure: eg http://soliton.ae.gatech.edu/people/jseitzma/classes/ae6450/electrothermal_thrusters.pdf (http://soliton.ae.gatech.edu/people/jseitzma/classes/ae6450/electrothermal_thrusters.pdf)

However, I'm not sure they (resistojets) have isp-s any better than pure chemical propulsion.

I was more interested in exploring whether there was a regime slightly better than chemical with isp perhaps 400-550 that would normally be low thrust and undone by the Oberth-effect (because of continuous operation), which could benefit from a pulsed perigee burn. And as the extra energy is coming from batteries, which have rubbish storage capacities, and because energy scales with the square of velocity, it seemed to me that as long as such a pulsed system achieved only marginally better performance than chemical, it might be worth-while. Keeping it marginally better reduces energy requirements and length of time for orbit raising.

Using endothermic reactions would allow the extra energy to be added at lower temperatures and so reduce materials requirements.

Having a decent sized battery pack gratis in orbit might allow slightly larger thrusters than the very small ones on existing systems.

Would tea-cart sized bi-propellant rockets with electro-thermally preheated/disassociated propellants be useful?

If 64% of the energy is from existing chemical reactions then only 36% needs come from the sun. We still get roughly a 25% improvement in ISP.

ISP ~= root of energy =root of 64 = 8,
ISP ~= root of energy =root of 64+36 =10 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Patchouli on 07/05/2015 05:43 PM
I wonder could the performance be upgraded enough to launch a Oneweb satellite as it seems like it could be a good launcher to use for maintenance of the constellation?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 07/05/2015 08:28 PM
However, I'm not sure they (resistojets) have isp-s any better than pure chemical propulsion.
They do, that's biprop ISP from monoprop from your link. Electrics contribute significantly to the heating.

Unfortunately in that case the thrust is tiny, no good for ground launch. The power required to do that at scale would be enormous. With tiny thrusters, solar can keep up.

Look at the specs, it's like 2.5 kw per newton.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 07/05/2015 08:29 PM
I wonder could the performance be upgraded enough to launch a Oneweb satellite as it seems like it could be a good launcher to use for maintenance of the constellation?
Nope.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/05/2015 08:34 PM
I wonder could the performance be upgraded enough to launch a Oneweb satellite as it seems like it could be a good launcher to use for maintenance of the constellation?
Nope.
Virgin's LauncherOne has this job.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/05/2015 09:49 PM
Virgin's involvement with Oneweb may work in Rocketlab favour. With Launcherone busy servicing OneWeb, Virgin may not have spare Launcherones to compete with Electron.
This would leave Electron's main competition as Firefly and that is not due to start flying till 2017 and 2018 commercially ( high fly rates).

If Rocketlab can have the market to themselves for 2 years they should be able to recover their setup costs and be in position to reduce prices come 2018.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 07/05/2015 11:24 PM
If RocketLab actually starts flying customers next year it's likely to have a huge effect on the smallsat market.

Of course, that goes for any smallsat launch provider who actually starts flying soon, as they'll be the first to market.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/06/2015 12:18 AM
This LV segment is going to interesting watch. Just like their cubesat payloads I expect these LVs to evolve at quicker pace than the large GTO LVs.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/22/2015 04:58 AM
Here is one of reasons Rocket lab is  launch from NZ. Of cause manufacturing here, exchange rate, quiet airspace and CEO being NZer are big factors.

http://www.wired.com/2015/07/feds-big-problem-private-rocket-launches/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 07/22/2015 05:30 AM
Here is one of reasons Rocket lab is  launch from NZ. Of cause manufacturing here, exchange rate, quiet airspace and CEO being NZer are big factors.

http://www.wired.com/2015/07/feds-big-problem-private-rocket-launches/

Quiet airspace??  Not sure the CAANZ agree with you... but, for Rocketlab's sake, I do hope they can invent a workable launch licensing system before Rocketlab need one otherwise the Electron won't be leaving the Launchpad.

http://www.transport.govt.nz/air/airspace/

There's no shortage of bureaucracy in NZ..  ;D


Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/22/2015 09:57 AM
The air traffic south east of Christchurch is not that busy especially compared to Florida.

According to Peter Beck it is $400 for launch license.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Katana on 07/27/2015 04:30 PM
Why the company goes USA?
Here is one of reasons Rocket lab is  launch from NZ. Of cause manufacturing here, exchange rate, quiet airspace and CEO being NZer are big factors.

http://www.wired.com/2015/07/feds-big-problem-private-rocket-launches/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/27/2015 06:31 PM
Why the company goes USA?
Here is one of reasons Rocket lab is  launch from NZ. Of cause manufacturing here, exchange rate, quiet airspace and CEO being NZer are big factors.

http://www.wired.com/2015/07/feds-big-problem-private-rocket-launches/
Being US registered company allows them to launch US govt payloads. For DOD launches they may need a US factory and launch pads.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: BowShock on 07/31/2015 03:19 PM
RocketLab signs commercial space launch act agreement:

http://www.rocketlabusa.com/rocket-lab-and-nasa-sign-commercial-space-launch-act-agreement/

Any NASA policy experts have a read on this?  Appears to be an (unfunded) agreement with RL and NASA to use the Cape's launch facilities.  I wonder how transfer of information between NASA launch engineers and NZ citizens works with ITAR.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/01/2015 12:13 AM
Here is another article on this agreement.
The bit I find interesting is "re entry efforts."

http://i.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/70716001/rocket-lab-signs-deal-to-work-with-nasa
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 08/01/2015 12:25 AM
They'll be another boring NASA contractor in no time.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Lars-J on 08/01/2015 07:40 PM
They'll be another boring NASA contractor in no time.

If no one else is paying, then why not?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 08/01/2015 10:52 PM
If no one else is paying, then why not?

How to tell if a startup is truly "commercial" or a government contractor still breaking out of the egg: do they have sales people? Is that who you talked to at the conference? If not, they don't want your money.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Darkseraph on 08/01/2015 11:35 PM
^Yaaaack!

The commercial aspect of commercial space is not who the customers are, but who designs, owns and operates the vehicles; Who sets and controls the internal management structure of the companies and so forth.

It is a facile cheap shot to condemn companies that operate in this relatively marginal sector of the economy for accepting money to provide services to the the biggest single customer in that market. Most people would call that being a savvy businessman.

 When governments, who were responsible for the development of most of these systems in the 20th Century buy your services, it sends out a good message to other possible customers. NASA, The U.S Air Force or another Space Agency saying you're a cool guy and good to go..... helps build credibility, weirdly enough.

We could have immaculate, ideologically pure space startups who would accept no money from governments...but then we'd quickly have both no space startups followed swiftly by no new methods/technologies to increase the accessibility of outerspace. It will be decades before governments decline in their share of the market to being no more important than anyone else for the planning of a startup.

I've heard such arguments being used to decry how Apollo stunted going to the Moon because of centralized state bureaucracy; that if it had been 100% left up private enterprise, we'd been there cheaper, better and faster. However if we'd actually gone with that plan, we'd definitely have had to fake the Moon landings! ;) 

I say Godspeed to them, because the costs/risks are so high and the probable returns so low/negative, that fledgling companies like this must fight for every penny they can get or go bust! See below:

 


<---------------Realism / Ideological Purity--------------->
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 08/01/2015 11:40 PM
Actually, we can't have ideologically pure space startups that don't take any government money... and that's the problem. Everyone who has tried to do that has been squashed into the ground by the powers that be. Either you cooperate or you're out of business. Rocketlab are learning that, and it's sad to watch.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: topsphere on 08/02/2015 12:05 AM
Actually, we can't have ideologically pure space startups that don't take any government money... and that's the problem. Everyone who has tried to do that has been squashed into the ground by the powers that be. Either you cooperate or you're out of business. Rocketlab are learning that, and it's sad to watch.

And how, in your opinion, do we solve this problem?

Rocketlab seem to be progressing nicely and filling their own little niche.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 08/02/2015 12:08 AM
And how, in your opinion, do we solve this problem?

Why would you assume I know?

Quote from: topsphere
Rocketlab seem to be progressing nicely and filling their own little niche.

How do you figure? So far they're progressing like every other launch startup except SpaceX, none of which have gotten to space. Think about what that niche is, get it firmly in your head, and watch as it slowly goes away over the next few years.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Darkseraph on 08/02/2015 12:09 AM
Sure, but ideological purity is not the magic wand that makes that problem go away. The problem is mostly an aspect of the inherent characteristics of the specific technologies themselves at this stage in their development. They are not like other technologies America loves to export everywhere, like say: Airplanes, Cars and Computers!

The wand that makes that go away is these companies being able to get in the door in the first place without keeling over, so they can develop technologies like reusability, cheaper assembly and components. And that will be a slow and ugly process for the time being. But that's greatly preferable to nothing.

If you enacted Rapture tomorrow as the basis of government, you would still not get a booming space market launching 30m Sea Dragons from private aquatic enterprise to Elysium in orbit! Totally sans-government interference, or any other potential boogeymen, smart enough capitalists would do a quick mental calculation of risk vs reward at this stage of the technology and decide this is not a short term cash cow and I will probably lose multiple millions; As Mitt Romney elegantly put it : "You're Fired!"

I'll be keeping tabs on this company for the next couple of years, and I hope the best for them.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Lars-J on 08/02/2015 12:25 AM
Actually, we can't have ideologically pure space startups that don't take any government money... and that's the problem. Everyone who has tried to do that has been squashed into the ground by the powers that be. Either you cooperate or you're out of business. Rocketlab are learning that, and it's sad to watch.

Perhaps there is some grand conspiracy, or perhaps the grand smallsat market you champion... just isn't there?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 08/02/2015 12:39 AM
Perhaps there is some grand conspiracy, or perhaps the grand smallsat market you champion... just isn't there?

and perhaps you've never gone to a space conference and spoken to person after person who can't get a launch. The pent-up demand for smallsat launch is real.. it's clearly a supply problem, and everyone know this.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/02/2015 06:34 AM
I don't think Rocket lab are relying on NASA business to be successful, not even sure if they can launch NASA payloads from NZ.

The NASA connection is more about having access to NASA's new small LV pad facilities at the Cape.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Lars-J on 08/03/2015 06:44 AM
Perhaps there is some grand conspiracy, or perhaps the grand smallsat market you champion... just isn't there?

and perhaps you've never gone to a space conference and spoken to person after person who can't get a launch. The pent-up demand for smallsat launch is real.. it's clearly a supply problem, and everyone know this.

No. If all those people you encounter at space conferences were willing to pony up the current asking price (even the low numbers these new providers claim to offer), there would be no issue. The market would be self-evident. But they clearly aren't. It is clearly a funding issue. Or?

I'd love to go to space. As would millions of people. But we aren't willing to (or cannot) pay $20+ million per person and the hassle of months of russian training to do it. So very few people are actually doing it.  You could call that a supply problem if you want - but that is being very simplistic.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 08/03/2015 08:18 AM
What are you talking about? The problem is - and has been for years - that there isn't enough smallsat launch providers. There's been Pegasus and Dnepr-1, both of which are mostly unavailable these days, and there's ride shares. There's a long line of people waiting for a reliable launch provider, but the same thing tends to happen to all of them - they get deals for bigger payload launches and their attention moves. The same thing will happen to Rocketlab. The reason so many people thought LauncherOne would be different is because of the inherent limitation of WhiteKnightTwo.. then, surprise surprise, Stratolaunch comes along and now VG are planning to leapfrog to a LauncherTwo, leaving the smallsats in the lurch again. The problem isn't demand, it's that everyone who starts on the path to actually fielding a smallsat launcher gets offered development bucks and it's a lot easier to just keep on developing than it is to actually start flying.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: strangequark on 08/03/2015 02:50 PM
What are you talking about? The problem is - and has been for years - that there isn't enough smallsat launch providers. There's been Pegasus and Dnepr-1, both of which are mostly unavailable these days, and there's ride shares. There's a long line of people waiting for a reliable launch provider, but the same thing tends to happen to all of them - they get deals for bigger payload launches and their attention moves. The same thing will happen to Rocketlab. The reason so many people thought LauncherOne would be different is because of the inherent limitation of WhiteKnightTwo.. then, surprise surprise, Stratolaunch comes along and now VG are planning to leapfrog to a LauncherTwo, leaving the smallsats in the lurch again. The problem isn't demand, it's that everyone who starts on the path to actually fielding a smallsat launcher gets offered development bucks and it's a lot easier to just keep on developing than it is to actually start flying.

So, there's a massive untapped market of smallsats that desperately need launches, and no one is providing? Where's your business plan? Sounds like a fine opportunity.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Lars-J on 08/03/2015 08:54 PM
What are you talking about? The problem is - and has been for years - that there isn't enough smallsat launch providers. There's been Pegasus and Dnepr-1, both of which are mostly unavailable these days, and there's ride shares.

And why are Pegasus and Dnepr-1 unavailable? Perhaps it might be because not enough *actual* customers (vs people who claim to be) are showing up? I'm sure OrbitalATK would be happy to fly a Pegasus payload, if someone actually wanted to pay for it.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/04/2015 06:26 AM
Here is another local article, little info on launch pad restrictions.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/top/280016/rocket-lab-a-step-closer-to-lift-off

I did read one article where they quoted Beck as having 30 launches booked, another with 2 years of launches booked and yet another saying they had 30 potential customers.
I doubt all 3 are wrong, there is definitely a pentup demand for these small LVs. Whether there is enough long term demand to sustain the competing LVs in development, remains to been seen.


Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: catdlr on 08/05/2015 09:41 PM
article on the Los Angeles Times:

L.A.-based Rocket Lab to build a satellite launch site in New Zealand

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-rocketlab-satellites-20150805-story.html

Quote
Rocket Lab estimates each launch will cost nearly $5 million — a fraction of the average price that aerospace firms pay today to blast a satellite to orbit.

Founded in 2007, Rocket Lab began as a start-up investment led by Chief Executive Peter Beck and other entrepreneurs. The company now has 60 employees between its New Zealand and Los Angeles locations and hopes to expand.

Rocket Lab says it can keep launch costs low by targeting small satellites weighing less than 220 pounds. Normally, these smaller satellites have to coordinate their launches, hitchhiking on a rocket with larger satellites, but Rocket Lab believes it has found a niche in the satellite market.

Picture Credit: Founded in 2007, Rocket Lab began as a start-up led by CEO Peter Beck, above. The company now has 60 employees in New Zealand and L.A. (Phil Walter / Getty Images)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/06/2015 10:26 AM
article on the Los Angeles Times:

L.A.-based Rocket Lab to build a satellite launch site in New Zealand

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-rocketlab-satellites-20150805-story.html

Quote
Rocket Lab estimates each launch will cost nearly $5 million — a fraction of the average price that aerospace firms pay today to blast a satellite to orbit.

Founded in 2007, Rocket Lab began as a start-up investment led by Chief Executive Peter Beck and other entrepreneurs. The company now has 60 employees between its New Zealand and Los Angeles locations and hopes to expand.

Rocket Lab says it can keep launch costs low by targeting small satellites weighing less than 220 pounds. Normally, these smaller satellites have to coordinate their launches, hitchhiking on a rocket with larger satellites, but Rocket Lab believes it has found a niche in the satellite market.

Picture Credit: Founded in 2007, Rocket Lab began as a start-up led by CEO Peter Beck, above. The company now has 60 employees in New Zealand and L.A. (Phil Walter / Getty Images)

"We are also always looking for new ways to make our products more affordable and dependable," Kramer added. "Rocket Lab's Electron rocket could allow for low-cost flight testing of our technologies."

Having LM as partner can only help if Rocketlab decide to follow up the Electron with a RLV. Unfortunately these small hitech companies have a habit of being swallowed up by larger companies after their technology and customer base. I've already experienced this once with a local hitech company, the US buyers cherry picked the technology they were after and sold off the rest of business. 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Kryten on 08/10/2015 04:34 PM
Rocketlab have added a section to their website (http://book.rocketlabusa.com/) for booking cubesat slots, which also gives some general info on future flight plans.
-As of today there are 28 flights listed, with the first in Q3 2016 and leading up to Q2 2019
-All flights listed are to a 500km sun sync orbit or a 45 degree LEO; none of the low-inclination flights that would require US facilities
-All or most flights include a standard cubesat deployment system with 24 3U pods and 8 1U pods
-Despite the large number of deployers, all current flights are at 15%, 65%, 71%, or 100% booked with no other values; repeated block buys?
-Prices are given as $70-80,000 for a 1U pod, and $200-250,000 for a 3U pod, depending on orbit and date of launch
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/11/2015 12:56 AM
Another article on this online booking.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/70995652/rocket-lab-satellite-launches-filling-up-fast

They are still holding to end of 2015 for first launch. Doesn't leave much time to get their pad build, still waiting on building permits etc.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Lars-J on 08/14/2015 07:22 AM
Another article on this online booking.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/70995652/rocket-lab-satellite-launches-filling-up-fast

They are still holding to end of 2015 for first launch. Doesn't leave much time to get their pad build, still waiting on building permits etc.

If they haven't firmly settled on a launch site yet, nor started construction - then yeah, it ain't happening this year.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 08/14/2015 08:03 AM
If they haven't firmly settled on a launch site yet, nor started construction - then yeah, it ain't happening this year.

Hmm.. I wouldn't be so sure.  This isn't LC-39 we're talking about here - it's more "slightly larger than a kiddie toy".

From the preliminary renders around, all they're looking at is a concrete pad with a semi-portable launch tower and a site shed or two nearby.  Given their first flight is a one-off test, fuel loading is most likely straight off the back of a truck.  That's not rocket science.. :)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Beittil on 08/14/2015 08:33 AM
And an LC-39C type pad could be built fairly quickly as well. Of course NASA had existing structure to pipe from when they built theirs, but it was still built quite fast!
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/14/2015 10:22 AM
A lot of the infrastructure can be built off site and dropped into place. The build's shell shouldn't take to long to assemble.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/20/2015 12:18 AM
Rocketlab considering another launch site on Mahia Peninsula, near Wairoa in North Island. 

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK1508/S00363/rocket-lab-considering-an-additonal-launch-site-in-wairoa.htm
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/20/2015 12:21 AM
Peter Beck on ask me anything radio show. Not sure if this has aired yet.

http://www.nbr.co.nz/ask-peter-beck
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 08/20/2015 06:45 AM
Here's Wairoa on the map. Good for launches to the South. I'm not so sure to the East, as the flightpath is over land.

https://www.google.com.au/maps/@-39.035173,177.4180311,9z
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 08/20/2015 07:41 AM
Here's Wairoa on the map. Good for launches to the South. I'm not so sure to the East, as the flightpath is over land.

https://www.google.com.au/maps/@-39.035173,177.4180311,9z

FWIW, it's a really, really nice part of the world..
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Skyrocket on 08/20/2015 08:30 AM
Here's Wairoa on the map. Good for launches to the South. I'm not so sure to the East, as the flightpath is over land.

https://www.google.com.au/maps/@-39.035173,177.4180311,9z


The considered launch site is not directly at Wairoa, but about 20 km to the east at Onenui Station, on the southern tip of Mahia peninsula, which has no limitations to the east

https://www.google.com.au/maps/@-39.2144245,177.837189,10.75z
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: NZ1 on 08/22/2015 04:14 AM
An interview with the wairoa mayor about Rocketlab setting up a launch site in wairoa

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons/audio/201767483/wairoa,-gateway-to-the-galaxy
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 08/22/2015 04:52 PM
RocketLab presentation from June SPRSA conference (https://www.sprsa.org/17th-annual-small-payload-rideshare-symposium/program)

https://www.sprsa.org/sites/default/files/conference-presentation/Schneider-Rocket%20Lab%20general%20introduction%20%28reduced%20video%29.pptx

Nothing too new, but pretty.

If you check the conference presentations page, you'll see Interorbitals and FireFly right next to this, too.
( whoops that attachment is huge, didnt notice )
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/22/2015 09:50 PM
One slide had 400kg to LEO and 100kg to SSO. This is the first LEO payload spec I've seen. At $12,500/kg to LEO it is comparable to ULA and is not bad for small dedicated LV.
Once Virgin and Firefly start flying I would expect Rocket lab to reduce their prices.

 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 08/23/2015 12:55 AM
One slide had 400kg to LEO and 100kg to SSO. This is the first LEO payload spec I've seen. At $12,500/kg to LEO it is comparable to ULA and is not bad for small dedicated LV.
Once Virgin and Firefly start flying I would expect Rocket lab to reduce their prices.
Think it was mentioned in another article but iirc the article mentioned Firefly as well and 99% of space reporting can't be trusted with fiddly details so I didn't trust it.

Interesting, their web page now says 150 kg to 500 km SSO.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 09/21/2015 12:38 AM
This article shows how they sell payload slots. 8 x 1U at $80K + 24 x 3U at 250K per launch $6.64M total.
Of course you can buy the whole LV for $4.9M, probably lot less if you are buying a few LVs.


http://www.nanalyze.com/2015/09/rocket-lab-carbon-fiber-rockets-powered-by-3d-printing/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 09/21/2015 01:06 AM
Interesting article..

Of interest to me was the statements "at least 100 launches per year" and "the first 30 rocket payloads being fully booked" - which would imply that (a) they already have several rockets under construction and (b) plans to ramp up to around 2 launches per week!  Isn't that a lot to promise for a vehicle that has not yet flown?!?

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 09/21/2015 04:14 PM
Using high performance Lithium Polymer batteries to drive its turbo-pumps..
This has always looked somewhat puzzling. Why would they use LiPO when primary lithium batteries could deliver better specific energy and power ?
Could be just easy availability of off the shelf power electronics
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Patchouli on 09/21/2015 07:09 PM

This has always looked somewhat puzzling. Why would they use LiPO when primary lithium batteries could deliver better specific energy and power ?
Could be just easy availability of off the shelf power electronics


LiPO probably offers the best compromise in peak current capacity.

Plus they can use off the shelf batteries from the EV market vs using custom built cells.

Even on an expendable LV the ability to recharge the batteries is still useful in that the vehicle can be recharged if the launch is delayed or aborted.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 09/21/2015 07:23 PM
LiPO probably offers the best compromise in peak current capacity.
Definitely not, lipos generally cant be discharged as high as even LiFEPo4 cells - which come in at slightly less specific energy. And i haven't worked too much with primary lithium cells in large stacks but you should be able to draw very high pulse currents from LiSO2 and LiSOCl2 packs.

Quote
Plus they can use off the shelf batteries from the EV market vs using custom built cells.

Even on an expendable LV the ability to recharge the batteries is still useful in that the vehicle can be recharged if the launch is delayed or aborted.
Off the shelf electronics, battery packs and ability to re-charge for testing and delays is probably the real deciding factor.

EDIT: what i wrote above is bogus, that was true for early cobalt oxide cathode pouch cells, but not anymore. There are various polymer electrolyte cells with different cathodes around these days, i have lost track.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 10/01/2015 07:13 PM
So Moon Express now claims they booked a ride with RocketLab.
http://www.geekwire.com/2015/moon-express-and-rocket-lab-make-deal-for-lunar-landings-in-2017/
Which is odd, as RocketLab lists these as they payload specs on their web page

How do you get 150kg from SSO to the surface of the moon ..

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: acsawdey on 10/01/2015 07:30 PM
So Moon Express now claims they booked a ride with RocketLab.
http://www.geekwire.com/2015/moon-express-and-rocket-lab-make-deal-for-lunar-landings-in-2017/
Which is odd, as RocketLab lists these as they payload specs on their web page

How do you get 150kg from SSO to the surface of the moon ..

A small lander, some solar panels, ion propulsion to get to LLO. The alternative would be to try to engineer a tiny hydrolox stage but that seems like madness. You'd still need a storable propellant descent and landing stage.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 10/01/2015 07:47 PM
How do you get 150kg from SSO to the surface of the moon ..

A small lander, some solar panels, ion propulsion to get to LLO.
They dont do ion propulsion, last they talked about hydrogen peroxide prop. LADEE weighed 400kg at launch and orbited the moon, but it was boosted by Minotaur V
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: GWH on 10/01/2015 08:02 PM
"In an Oct. 1 interview, Bob Richards, co-founder and chief executive of Moon Express, said that Electron will be able to send “something under” 10 kilograms to the surface of the moon. “That’s good for our purposes in our first missions,” he said. “Call it an entry-level lunar mission.” - See more at: http://spacenews.com/moon-express-buys-rocket-lab-launches-for-lunar-missions/#sthash.pP71rYIo.dpuf "

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: notsorandom on 10/01/2015 08:25 PM
So Moon Express now claims they booked a ride with RocketLab.
http://www.geekwire.com/2015/moon-express-and-rocket-lab-make-deal-for-lunar-landings-in-2017/
Which is odd, as RocketLab lists these as they payload specs on their web page

How do you get 150kg from SSO to the surface of the moon ..
Launching due east will buy them a few more kg to LEO. The difference between SSO and low inclination LEO is often a good amount. For the Delta II 7320 the difference is 2,865 kg to LEO and 1,651 to SSO. No clue what the difference is for the Electron. I doubt it alone can explain their quotes performance to the lunar surface.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 10/01/2015 08:31 PM
This is a shrunk MX1 (600kg) which has been designed specifically for Electron and its competing LVs.
Besides being a lander it also space craft eg lunar orbiter and can also act as a 3rd stage.

MoonExpress could actually make money on the XPrize, $25M (-$5M for LV) would go along way to paying for MX development and build costs.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 10/01/2015 08:48 PM
This is a shrunk MX1 (600kg) which has been designed specifically for Electron and its competing LVs.
Its 200kg according to Alan Boyle. And it's not designed to do anything else than meet the X-Prize launch contract deadline to get the extension. Moon Express found a way to get a 'launch contract'
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Zed_Noir on 10/02/2015 03:30 AM
So Moon Express now claims they booked a ride with RocketLab.
http://www.geekwire.com/2015/moon-express-and-rocket-lab-make-deal-for-lunar-landings-in-2017/
Which is odd, as RocketLab lists these as they payload specs on their web page

How do you get 150kg from SSO to the surface of the moon ..

"In an Oct. 1 interview, Bob Richards, co-founder and chief executive of Moon Express, said that Electron will be able to send “something under” 10 kilograms to the surface of the moon. “That’s good for our purposes in our first missions,” he said. “Call it an entry-level lunar mission.” - See more at: http://spacenews.com/moon-express-buys-rocket-lab-launches-for-lunar-missions/#sthash.pP71rYIo.dpuf "

Since the Electron have a 120 cm external diameter. Maybe a micro lander based on a 27 U cubesat.

Moon Express is not carrying a rover. Instead they will land, take a video clip and hopped at least 500 meters from landing point to claim the GLXP prize.  ::)

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/02/2015 04:22 AM
"In an Oct. 1 interview, Bob Richards, co-founder and chief executive of Moon Express, said that Electron will be able to send “something under” 10 kilograms to the surface of the moon.

Zero is something under 10.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 10/02/2015 08:49 AM
Being the first scheduled to launch of the new small LVs has paid off for RocketLab. MoonExpress specifically design this lander for Electron. If Firefly was flying first the lander would have been designed for larger Alpha and may have been to small for Electron.

This combination of low cost dedicated LV and lander maybe a winner for MoonExpress. Besides their XPrize mission which may turn a profit given low launch costs, they have another two missions for customers. They have allowed themselves 3 attempts at XPrize, if successful on 1st the other 2 booked launches will be for customers.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Skyrocket on 10/02/2015 04:08 PM
Celestis will apparently include a capsule with ashes on one of these lunar missions, as today a new flight appeared in their schedule

Mission    Scheduled Launch Date    Service    Launch Site
Tribute Flight    November 6, 2015    Earth Rise    Spaceport America, New Mexico
Heritage Flight    Q4 2015    Earth Orbit    Cape Canaveral, Florida
Earth Rise 08    Q2 2016    Earth Rise    Spaceport America, New Mexico
Earth Orbit 08    Q3 2016    Earth Orbit    Cape Canaveral, Florida
Earth Rise 09    Q2 2017    Earth Rise    Spaceport America, New Mexico
Earth Orbit 09    Q3 2017    Earth Orbit    Cape Canaveral, Florida
Voyager 01*    Q3 2017    Voyager    Cape Canaveral, Florida
Luna 02    Q4 2017    Luna    Cape Canaveral, Florida or New Zealand

http://www.celestis.com/manifest.asp
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Prober on 10/02/2015 05:36 PM
This is a shrunk MX1 (600kg) which has been designed specifically for Electron and its competing LVs.
Besides being a lander it also space craft eg lunar orbiter and can also act as a 3rd stage.

MoonExpress could actually make money on the XPrize, $25M (-$5M for LV) would go along way to paying for MX development and build costs.

Where did you hear about shrinking the MX1 down ?
Would like to watch and follow this.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/02/2015 06:06 PM
This is a shrunk MX1 (600kg) which has been designed specifically for Electron and its competing LVs.
Besides being a lander it also space craft eg lunar orbiter and can also act as a 3rd stage.

MoonExpress could actually make money on the XPrize, $25M (-$5M for LV) would go along way to paying for MX development and build costs.

Where did you hear about shrinking the MX1 down ?
Would like to watch and follow this.

It's implied by the fact that we know Electron can't carry the mass of the originally-planned 600 kg MX-1.

It's also explicitly stated in the article linked to a few posts back:

Quote
Meanwhile, Silicon Valley-based Moon Express is building and testing versions of its MX-1 lander – which Richards said is being scaled down to a mass of 200 kilograms (440 pounds), including fuel.

http://www.geekwire.com/2015/moon-express-and-rocket-lab-make-deal-for-lunar-landings-in-2017/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 10/02/2015 07:16 PM
This is a shrunk MX1 (600kg) which has been designed specifically for Electron and its competing LVs.
Its 200kg according to Alan Boyle. And it's not designed to do anything else than meet the X-Prize launch contract deadline to get the extension. Moon Express found a way to get a 'launch contract'

As i was saying:
http://spaceref.biz/commercial-space/moon-express-launch-contract-to-be-verified-by-google-lunar-xprize.html

Quote
Yesterday Moon Express became the first Google Lunar XPRIZE participant to sign a launch contract with a launch service provider, albeit one who has yet to launch a rocket.

...
Should the Google Lunar XPRIZE verify the contract, then the competition deadline will be extended beyond the current deadline of December 31st of this year to the end of 2017. However, any other team who wish to remain in the competition would have to announce and have their contract verified by December 31st, 2016.

In other news, anyone here know any other X-prize teams that need a ride for the extension ? I have one available for a low price
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 10/02/2015 07:27 PM
Here are two more articles on it. We have name for it MX-1E (E for Electron??).
Made up of 2 small (identical??) landers first one acts as booster to get it out of LEO.


http://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/01/moon-express-rockets-closer-to-planned-lunar-landing.html

http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/nzs-rocket-lab-signs-contract-company-planning-moonshots-2017

I posted this on MoonExpress thread, trying stop Rocket lab becoming about MX-1E. Think carefully about thread you use to reply.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Prober on 10/03/2015 01:15 PM
Here are two more articles on it. We have name for it MX-1E (E for Electron??).
Made up of 2 small (identical??) landers first one acts as booster to get it out of LEO.


http://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/01/moon-express-rockets-closer-to-planned-lunar-landing.html

http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/nzs-rocket-lab-signs-contract-company-planning-moonshots-2017

I posted this on MoonExpress thread, trying stop Rocket lab becoming about MX-1E. Think carefully about thread you use to reply.

"Moon Express wants to launch two moonshots in 2017 using one of Rocket Lab's low-cost Electron Rockets, with a third at a later date."

'Rocket Lab’s manifest in 2017 and has contracted for a third launch at a time to be determined, with options for a fourth and fifth launch. The launches would accommodate Moon Express’ commercial payloads – and also give the venture more than one crack at winning the X Prize.

“Hopefully we nail it on the first time,” Richards said. “But as you know, space is hard.”

Looking like RocketLab is being operated by some serious management.  The launch market is also taking them seriously.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/03/2015 07:40 PM
Here are two more articles on it. We have name for it MX-1E (E for Electron??).
Made up of 2 small (identical??) landers first one acts as booster to get it out of LEO.


http://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/01/moon-express-rockets-closer-to-planned-lunar-landing.html

http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/nzs-rocket-lab-signs-contract-company-planning-moonshots-2017

I posted this on MoonExpress thread, trying stop Rocket lab becoming about MX-1E. Think carefully about thread you use to reply.

"Moon Express wants to launch two moonshots in 2017 using one of Rocket Lab's low-cost Electron Rockets, with a third at a later date."

'Rocket Lab’s manifest in 2017 and has contracted for a third launch at a time to be determined, with options for a fourth and fifth launch. The launches would accommodate Moon Express’ commercial payloads – and also give the venture more than one crack at winning the X Prize.

“Hopefully we nail it on the first time,” Richards said. “But as you know, space is hard.”

Looking like RocketLab is being operated by some serious management.  The launch market is also taking them seriously.

This contract doesn't give evidence of either of these things.

Google Lunar X-Prize contestants are desperately scrambling right now.  None of their announced plans for launches have been materializing.  The original deadline to win was 2014.  All the contestants were clearly going to fail to meet that deadline, so it was extended to the end of 2015.  And it's still clear nobody is going to meet the extended deadline.  So the deadline is being extended again, by two more years, but only if the contestants can show an actual launch contract by the end of 2015.

So, you have contestants who have been working on their projects for years and who are going to die in a few months unless they can produce a launch contract.

On the other hand, you have RocketLab, who has never launched anything and little evidence they have any customers.  So RocketLab is clearly also in desperate need of a customer to show off.

It's no surprise that a desperate would-be customer would sign with a desperate would-be launch provider.  Neither of them has anything to lose, and a lot to gain, just by signing the contract, even if there's little chance Moon Express can actually pay for the launch and little chance RocketLab can actually execute the launch.

So, I don't think this demonstrates "serious management" on the part of RocketLab or that the "launch market" is taking them seriously.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 10/04/2015 06:08 PM
Here is list of small LVs currently flying  and in development. Courtesy of Parabolic arc.


http://www.parabolicarc.com/2015/10/04/updated-list-smallsat-launch-vehicles/#more-56525
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Alf Fass on 10/04/2015 06:43 PM
Here are two more articles on it. We have name for it MX-1E (E for Electron??).
Made up of 2 small (identical??) landers first one acts as booster to get it out of LEO.


http://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/01/moon-express-rockets-closer-to-planned-lunar-landing.html

http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/nzs-rocket-lab-signs-contract-company-planning-moonshots-2017

I posted this on MoonExpress thread, trying stop Rocket lab becoming about MX-1E. Think carefully about thread you use to reply.

"Moon Express wants to launch two moonshots in 2017 using one of Rocket Lab's low-cost Electron Rockets, with a third at a later date."

'Rocket Lab’s manifest in 2017 and has contracted for a third launch at a time to be determined, with options for a fourth and fifth launch. The launches would accommodate Moon Express’ commercial payloads – and also give the venture more than one crack at winning the X Prize.

“Hopefully we nail it on the first time,” Richards said. “But as you know, space is hard.”

Looking like RocketLab is being operated by some serious management.  The launch market is also taking them seriously.

This contract doesn't give evidence of either of these things.

Google Lunar X-Prize contestants are desperately scrambling right now.  None of their announced plans for launches have been materializing.  The original deadline to win was 2014.  All the contestants were clearly going to fail to meet that deadline, so it was extended to the end of 2015.  And it's still clear nobody is going to meet the extended deadline.  So the deadline is being extended again, by two more years, but only if the contestants can show an actual launch contract by the end of 2015.

So, you have contestants who have been working on their projects for years and who are going to die in a few months unless they can produce a launch contract.

On the other hand, you have RocketLab, who has never launched anything and little evidence they have any customers.  So RocketLab is clearly also in desperate need of a customer to show off.

It's no surprise that a desperate would-be customer would sign with a desperate would-be launch provider.  Neither of them has anything to lose, and a lot to gain, just by signing the contract, even if there's little chance Moon Express can actually pay for the launch and little chance RocketLab can actually execute the launch.

So, I don't think this demonstrates "serious management" on the part of RocketLab or that the "launch market" is taking them seriously.


I agree that this contract demonstrates little, however, other recent events around Rocket Lab, the hardware they've been able the show, and feedback and support from people and organizations they've been dealing with, means I've no doubt they're serious and will be getting PL's into orbit within 2 years.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/06/2015 06:34 AM
Making a "contract" between two companies is a serious matter.

False.

There's a vast range of different kinds of contracts between companies.  Some are just for show, so they can issue a joint press release.  I've seen it first hand while working at a company doing exactly this.

It gets into legal matters and that most times requires attorney's fees.

But not very high attorneys' fees.

So funds for legal should have been expended.  Further, most companies would require some sort of deposit, even its a "good faith" deposit.

No, there are lots of agreements signed between companies with no deposit involved.  These agreements are followed by announcements about the agreements.  The point of the contract is to announce it.

I see this happen all the time between start-up tech companies.

Unless they announce the terms, we have no way of knowing the terms of this contract.  To assume there is likely to be a deposit is not logical.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Alf Fass on 10/06/2015 07:31 AM
From NASAWATCH: "Here's what Chanda Gonzales, Senior Director, Google Lunar XPRIZE said on the contract issue "Our decision is based on a holistic assessment of whether the launch contract is genuine, whether there are any legal issues that might pop up, whether there are any obvious non-compliances with the rules, and whether a substantial commitment was made by both the team and the launch provider (e.g. non-refundable deposit of some certain minimum value)." "

My bold.

http://nasawatch.com/archives/2015/10/google-lunar-x-4.html
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/06/2015 10:31 AM
From NASAWATCH: "Here's what Chanda Gonzales, Senior Director, Google Lunar XPRIZE said on the contract issue "Our decision is based on a holistic assessment of whether the launch contract is genuine, whether there are any legal issues that might pop up, whether there are any obvious non-compliances with the rules, and whether a substantial commitment was made by both the team and the launch provider (e.g. non-refundable deposit of some certain minimum value)." "

My bold.

http://nasawatch.com/archives/2015/10/google-lunar-x-4.html

And we haven't heard yet what that decision is.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/07/2015 06:41 PM
From NASAWATCH: "Here's what Chanda Gonzales, Senior Director, Google Lunar XPRIZE said on the contract issue "Our decision is based on a holistic assessment of whether the launch contract is genuine, whether there are any legal issues that might pop up, whether there are any obvious non-compliances with the rules, and whether a substantial commitment was made by both the team and the launch provider (e.g. non-refundable deposit of some certain minimum value)." "

My bold.

http://nasawatch.com/archives/2015/10/google-lunar-x-4.html

And we haven't heard yet what that decision is.

Note that now SpaceIL, another Google Lunar X-Prize competitor, has bought a slot on a rideshare on a Falcon 9, and the contest organizers have certified SpaceIL as the "first and only" team to have an approved launch contract:

“We are proud to officially confirm receipt and verification of SpaceIL’s launch contract, positioning them as the first and only Google Lunar XPRIZE team to demonstrate this important achievement, thus far,” said Bob Weiss, vice chairman and president of XPRIZE. “The magnitude of this achievement cannot be overstated, representing an unprecedented and monumental commitment for a privately-funded organization, and kicks off an exciting phase of the competition in which the other 15 teams now have until the end of 2016 to produce their own verified launch contracts.

So why hasn't the X-Prize organization approved the Moon Express contract?  At this point, it's looking like the X-Prize people at least have some doubts and at worst think the Moon Express contract doesn't meet their standards for being a "real" launch contract.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 10/08/2015 07:41 AM
Is there a reason for your personal vendetta against RocketLab or are you just bored?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/08/2015 07:54 AM
Is there a reason for your personal vendetta against RocketLab or are you just bored?

There's no personal vendetta.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 10/08/2015 11:03 PM
Is there a reason for your personal vendetta against RocketLab or are you just bored?

There's no personal vendetta.

Must be bored then.. :D

FWIW, I hear on the grapevine that they're still busily working away, building stuff, buying stuff, getting set up and still aiming for a first launch by the end of the year.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: a_langwich on 10/08/2015 11:33 PM
Is there a reason for your personal vendetta against RocketLab or are you just bored?

There's no personal vendetta.

Must be bored then.. :D

Every person on this forum probably fits that definition of bored, most certainly including QuantumG and yourself.  :D

He's calling it like he sees it.  I think he's substantially right.  But hey, just because it's accurate to say a horse is a 50-1 longshot doesn't mean we can't pull for it and hope it wins.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Prober on 10/09/2015 02:13 AM
not sure if anyone posted this yet......

https://news.yahoo.com/video/firm-uses-3-d-printed-225000034.html

decent video ;)

NSF Linkage to the engine

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34421.msg1359569#msg1359569
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/09/2015 05:23 AM
Is there a reason for your personal vendetta against RocketLab or are you just bored?

There's no personal vendetta.

Must be bored then.. :D

Every person on this forum probably fits that definition of bored, most certainly including QuantumG and yourself.  :D

He's calling it like he sees it.  I think he's substantially right.  But hey, just because it's accurate to say a horse is a 50-1 longshot doesn't mean we can't pull for it and hope it wins.

Yeah, exactly.  RocketLab is a longshot, but it has a shot.  It has a far better chance than most start-up space companies.  I'd be thrilled to see them succeed.

But that doesn't mean people should shy away from pointing out the negatives.  The companies themselves only point out the most positive versions of things in their public statements.  It's up to the rest of us to give those statements a reality check.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Alf Fass on 10/09/2015 05:49 AM

Yeah, exactly.  RocketLab is a longshot, but it has a shot.  It has a far better chance than most start-up space companies.  I'd be thrilled to see them succeed.

But that doesn't mean people should shy away from pointing out the negatives.  The companies themselves only point out the most positive versions of things in their public statements.  It's up to the rest of us to give those statements a reality check.


You (or at least I) often get a vibe from these start-ups after they've been working at their systems for a few years, things are either happening and the company Heads seem focused, or, as with Virgin Galactic, there seems to be an endless series of problems and hiccups, and the Heads need to try to talk things up - often they actually appear to be trying to talk themselves into being positive.
 The vibe I get from Rocket Lab is that they've got the backing they need, things are going well, they're focused, what they have been doing is working, they mean what they say, and they aren't just blowing smoke like so many others.

I give them a 90% chance of a successful launch within 6 months. My other hot tip is Blue Origin.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/09/2015 07:06 AM
You (or at least I) often get a vibe from these start-ups after they've been working at their systems for a few years, things are either happening and the company Heads seem focused, or, as with Virgin Galactic, there seems to be an endless series of problems and hiccups, and the Heads need to try to talk things up - often they actually appear to be trying to talk themselves into being positive.
In some ways VG's goals are more limited, but in others much more ambitious.
Actually something similar could be said of Blue as well, given their fondness for discretion.
Quote
The vibe I get from Rocket Lab is that they've got the backing they need, things are going well, they're focused, what they have been doing is working, they mean what they say, and they aren't just blowing smoke like so many others.
I saw the video you referenced. So the key facts (as far as there are any mentioned)

Turbo pump drive motor is "Size of soda can" and generates 50Hp or 37700W of power.

Carries "1 Mega Watt" of batteries.

Watts are a unit of power, energy per unit time. Joules are a unit of energy. If he meant Joules that's about 26secs of running time driving that motor.

Is this guy the CEO?
Quote

I give them a 90% chance of a successful launch within 6 months. My other hot tip is Blue Origin.
That's neat. Link a rank outsider with a front runner to suggest they are both front runners.

Well  this

http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/missions/commercial/rocket-lab-electron-rutherford-peter-beck-started-first-place/

says they're aiming for late December 2015. We'll see.

As for what's 3d printed on this engine, the video showed nothing about that.  TBH on this scale I'd probably go CNC and use the laser deposition to make expendable formers for lost wax casting. May have done this, may not. But turbo pumps scale down badly and the claimed thrust 4600lbs is near the top of the reasonable range for piston pumps, according to John Whitehead's team at Livermore.

Rocket Lab are claiming electron deposition of metal for the chamber. That's something LM have trialed through a sub contractor. IIRC such suppliers are very few and very far between. It is a long way from mainstream 3d printing.
IOW very expensive. You're going to need phenomenal performance benefits or a very good deal on bulk orders to make that a good design decision.  :(

I note they have made a sounding rocket launch. It'd be interesting to see if that was a liquid fueled vehicle of basic design to this rocket or completely different tech. If the same then they've already retired significant risk.

They certainly talk a very good game and (unlike Orbital) they are not at the mercy of a supplier/partner for a key part of their stages, so should not be subject to 100% price rises.

Let's see what happens in December.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Alf Fass on 10/09/2015 07:55 AM
You (or at least I) often get a vibe from these start-ups after they've been working at their systems for a few years, things are either happening and the company Heads seem focused, or, as with Virgin Galactic, there seems to be an endless series of problems and hiccups, and the Heads need to try to talk things up - often they actually appear to be trying to talk themselves into being positive.
In some ways VG's goals are more limited, but in others much more ambitious.
Actually something similar could be said of Blue as well, given their fondness for discretion.
Quote
The vibe I get from Rocket Lab is that they've got the backing they need, things are going well, they're focused, what they have been doing is working, they mean what they say, and they aren't just blowing smoke like so many others.
I saw the video you referenced. So the key facts (as far as there are any mentioned)

Turbo pump drive motor is "Size of soda can" and generates 50Hp or 37700W of power.

Carries "1 Mega Watt" of batteries.

Watts are a unit of power, energy per unit time. Joules are a unit of energy. If he meant Joules that's about 26secs of running time driving that motor.

Is this guy the CEO?
Quote

I give them a 90% chance of a successful launch within 6 months. My other hot tip is Blue Origin.
That's neat. Link a rank outsider with a front runner to suggest they are both front runners.

Well  this

http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/missions/commercial/rocket-lab-electron-rutherford-peter-beck-started-first-place/

says they're aiming for late December 2015. We'll see.

As for what's 3d printed on this engine, the video showed nothing about that.  TBH on this scale I'd probably go CNC and use the laser deposition to make expendable formers for lost wax casting. May have done this, may not. But turbo pumps scale down badly and the claimed thrust 4600lbs is near the top of the reasonable range for piston pumps, according to John Whitehead's team at Livermore.

Rocket Lab are claiming electron deposition of metal for the chamber. That's something LM have trialed through a sub contractor. IIRC such suppliers are very few and very far between. It is a long way from mainstream 3d printing.
IOW very expensive. You're going to need phenomenal performance benefits or a very good deal on bulk orders to make that a good design decision.  :(

I note they have made a sounding rocket launch. It'd be interesting to see if that was a liquid fueled vehicle of basic design to this rocket or completely different tech. If the same then they've already retired significant risk.

They certainly talk a very good game and (unlike Orbital) they are not at the mercy of a supplier/partner for a key part of their stages, so should not be subject to 100% price rises.

Let's see what happens in December.

The "one megawatt" thing had me puzzled, I think he's referring to the total power available from the batteries of all the engines, about 3 times the power that's theoretically required.

I didn't reference a video.

"Rocket Lab are claiming electron deposition of metal for the chamber." No, they're using EBM.

 "But turbo pumps scale down badly"

They're using a battery powered rotodynamic pump, the bit in a turbo pump that scales badly is the turbine, and controlling it with adequate precision.

"and the claimed thrust 4600lbs is near the top of the reasonable range for piston pumps, according to John Whitehead's team at Livermore. "

I'm not sure what you're talking about there, they're not using piston pumps.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Alf Fass on 10/09/2015 08:48 AM
I was wondering about the weight of the batteries to power the pumps, using the 342kw power demand for the 9 first stage engines and assuming a first stage burn of 150s, I get a required capacity of 500,000,000J, at 0.5mJ/kg that's a first stage battery weight of 100kg.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: notsorandom on 10/09/2015 01:30 PM
You (or at least I) often get a vibe from these start-ups after they've been working at their systems for a few years, things are either happening and the company Heads seem focused, or, as with Virgin Galactic, there seems to be an endless series of problems and hiccups, and the Heads need to try to talk things up - often they actually appear to be trying to talk themselves into being positive.
 The vibe I get from Rocket Lab is that they've got the backing they need, things are going well, they're focused, what they have been doing is working, they mean what they say, and they aren't just blowing smoke like so many others.

I give them a 90% chance of a successful launch within 6 months. My other hot tip is Blue Origin.
RocketLab has been working on their product in a very direct way. They are taking a big chance with their chosen propulsion. Though electric pumps are easy to test out. If there were any show stoppers they seem like they could pivot to another approach. It can be hard to know when what you've been working on for years just won't work versus putting a bit more effort in and getting it to work. One of VG's main problems is that they are more focused on the methods and technology they started with than the goal they started with. Whenever they get someone to space it will involve air launch, feathering, and a hybrid engine. VG hasn't been receptive to other ideas which might accomplish their goals better.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/09/2015 01:40 PM
RocketLab started work in 2007 and that year is very interesting for many reasons.    SpaceX started in 2006, BlueO 2005 so each company runs in their own timeline/path.

SpaceX was founded in 2002.  Blue Origin was founded in 2000.

The first Falcon 1 launch attempt was in 2006 and the first Blue Origin flight was 2005, so maybe that's what's confusing you.  Those first launch dates shouldn't be compared with the founding date of RocketLab.  The first launch date for RocketLab hasn't even occurred yet.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 10/09/2015 02:16 PM
There has been nothing on the web about Rocket lab beginning construction on pad
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Prober on 10/09/2015 02:17 PM
RocketLab started work in 2007 and that year is very interesting for many reasons.    SpaceX started in 2006, BlueO 2005 so each company runs in their own timeline/path.

SpaceX was founded in 2002.  Blue Origin was founded in 2000.

The first Falcon 1 launch attempt was in 2006 and the first Blue Origin flight was 2005, so maybe that's what's confusing you.  Those first launch dates shouldn't be compared with the founding date of RocketLab.  The first launch date for RocketLab hasn't even occurred yet.

BO is in testing.
SpaceX isn't launching anything, and the New F9 has never launched what's your point? 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 10/09/2015 03:33 PM
I was wondering about the weight of the batteries to power the pumps, using the 342kw power demand for the 9 first stage engines and assuming a first stage burn of 150s, I get a required capacity of 500,000,000J, at 0.5mJ/kg that's a first stage battery weight of 100kg.

You are assuming standard~ish 150wh/kg or so, which is a fair guess. However, apparently one can do better these days

http://www.totalbatteryconsulting.com/industry-reports/Tesla-report/Extract-from-the-Tesla-battery-report.pdf

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: acsawdey on 10/09/2015 03:56 PM
You are assuming standard~ish 150wh/kg or so, which is a fair guess. However, apparently one can do better these days

Don't forget that you need to reach a certain power density as well. The need for 1MW power output has come up in a couple quotes. Some of the higher energy density cells can't be discharged at a high enough rate to be drained in ~3 minutes.

Can we come up with an estimate of max discharge rate on Tesla's 18650 cells based on "ludicrous mode" in the model P90D? Power output is stated to be 762 hp == 568kW, and pack voltage is apparently 375V, giving current of at least 1515A to allow for losses. But, dividing the 90kWh by 568kW gives 9.5 minutes. We need 76% more power than that (1.76x) which gives 5.4 minutes, still almost 2x more than we need. Also this pack weighs 450kg but a lot of that is cooling and structure.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 10/09/2015 04:32 PM
The main assumption here is the pump required power. For a 300 kw pump you'll need ~12 kw/h pack over 150 seconds. I'm not sure Electron is nearly big enough to require 300kw of pumping power though.

And discharge rates really are not the limiting issue here, if you don't care about battery longevity, which you don't for an expendable vehicle, you can draw crazy rates.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: acsawdey on 10/09/2015 05:22 PM
The main assumption here is the pump required power. For a 300 kw pump you'll need ~12 kw/h pack over 150 seconds. I'm not sure Electron is nearly big enough to require 300kw of pumping power though.

And discharge rates really are not the limiting issue here, if you don't care about battery longevity, which you don't for an expendable vehicle, you can draw crazy rates.

In the video he says "50 horsepower" which is 37kW. Times 9 engines that's 333kW. Not clear whether this is just one pump or both. It's quite clear from the images that it has separate pumps and motors for fuel and oxidizer.

I see your point about the discharge rate. You could qualify the cells for a rate that allows a couple of tests, even. But you don't need to last hundreds of cycles.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: baldusi on 10/09/2015 06:16 PM
I was wondering about the weight of the batteries to power the pumps, using the 342kw power demand for the 9 first stage engines and assuming a first stage burn of 150s, I get a required capacity of 500,000,000J, at 0.5mJ/kg that's a first stage battery weight of 100kg.
I'm sorry, but you probably meant 0.5MJ/kg, right? The above mentioned Panasonic cells have 0.84MJ/kg.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 10/09/2015 06:37 PM
BTW, RocketLab is not the only one choosing an electric pump for a smallsat launcher. If you click through the builders on this thread :
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38583.0
You'll find a few others. Ventions for example, who is prototyping for ALASA and also providing engineering services/components to some others
http://ventions.com/menu/

I doubt that the electric pumps will scale well to big first stage engines, and the optimization would go towards as short engine burns as possible
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Alf Fass on 10/09/2015 07:02 PM
I was wondering about the weight of the batteries to power the pumps, using the 342kw power demand for the 9 first stage engines and assuming a first stage burn of 150s, I get a required capacity of 500,000,000J, at 0.5mJ/kg that's a first stage battery weight of 100kg.
I'm sorry, but you probably meant 0.5MJ/kg, right? The above mentioned Panasonic cells have 0.84MJ/kg.

Yeah, and having a google, some claim just over 1MJ/kg for lithium–iron disulfide and lithium–manganese dioxide the latter suitable for high drain devices, so 50kg for 1st stage batteries, 5.5kg each motor.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: acsawdey on 10/09/2015 07:11 PM
I doubt that the electric pumps will scale well to big first stage engines, and the optimization would go towards as short engine burns as possible

Yes, electric pumps are meant to solve the problem that the gas turbine driving a conventional turbopump doesn't scale down to smaller sizes well. Also the electric motor is significantly easier to design and build than a gas turbine.

Also, as the Rocketlabs guy said, this reduces throttle and mixture control to "a software problem". You could reduce the pump power needed by throttling back later in flight just to the point where you take full advantage of the nozzle's expansion ratio, which would maximise Isp. If the pump is more efficient with lower output pressure, this could reduce the overall energy requirement.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: sdsds on 10/09/2015 07:33 PM
Did the R-1 suborbital vehicle they launched in 2009 use a pumped liquid propellant engine? How did that engine differ from the current "Rutherford" design? Was it pressure fed?

Also: don't 18 electric motors all spinning at 40,000 rpm as they go through max-q present some reliability challenges? Has RocketLab claimed the Electron would reach orbit if an engine went out?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 10/09/2015 07:52 PM
Also: don't 18 electric motors all spinning at 40,000 rpm as they go through max-q present some reliability challenges? Has RocketLab claimed the Electron would reach orbit if an engine went out?
I wouldnt expect that. You get electric motors spinning at half a million RPM

For really high end of this kind of stuff, magnetic bearings and all see

http://www.celeroton.com/en/products/motors.html

Thats obviously at a different scale, and as motors get bigger they normally need to slow down. But 40k rpm at that size should not be a challenge
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/09/2015 08:52 PM
RocketLab started work in 2007 and that year is very interesting for many reasons.    SpaceX started in 2006, BlueO 2005 so each company runs in their own timeline/path.

SpaceX was founded in 2002.  Blue Origin was founded in 2000.

The first Falcon 1 launch attempt was in 2006 and the first Blue Origin flight was 2005, so maybe that's what's confusing you.  Those first launch dates shouldn't be compared with the founding date of RocketLab.  The first launch date for RocketLab hasn't even occurred yet.

BO is in testing.
SpaceX isn't launching anything, and the New F9 has never launched what's your point?

My point is that your post is at best misleading and at worst downright wrong.

If someone didn't already know the dates for SpaceX, RocketLab, and Blue Origin, they would think from your post that they all started within two years of one another.  That is not correct.  By listing a founding date for RocketLab and a first-flight date for SpaceX and Blue Origin, you're giving a misleading impression.

I was correcting your misleading post.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: sdsds on 10/09/2015 09:37 PM
RocketLab has taken electron deposition and refined his custom 3D printer for his needs in house.  The company has been built RockeLab around the 3D Printer, and not just added a 3D Printer as a tool like other firms.   [...]

Is it your impression that a vehicle of this basic design requires 3D printing, i.e. no other manufacturing technology could produce engines that would get the vehicle to orbit? Or is it "solely" a cost issue? (FWIW my impression is that the difficulty of printing a gas-driven turbopump brought them to the electric-driven design, which is the underlying design choice that makes the effort so interesting, rather than the 3D printing per se.)

Only concern is his launch software

Even before launch they should be able to demonstrate "fine control" of the engine thrust on a test stand, yes? Is there an expected date for that milestone?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Alf Fass on 10/09/2015 11:06 PM
RocketLab has taken electron deposition and refined his custom 3D printer for his needs in house.  The company has been built RockeLab around the 3D Printer, and not just added a 3D Printer as a tool like other firms.   [...]

Is it your impression that a vehicle of this basic design requires 3D printing, i.e. no other manufacturing technology could produce engines that would get the vehicle to orbit? Or is it "solely" a cost issue? (FWIW my impression is that the difficulty of printing a gas-driven turbopump brought them to the electric-driven design, which is the underlying design choice that makes the effort so interesting, rather than the 3D printing per se.)

They're claiming the main benefit is that they can print an engine in 3 days
Quote

Only concern is his launch software

Even before launch they should be able to demonstrate "fine control" of the engine thrust on a test stand, yes? Is there an expected date for that milestone?

They've had 300 test stand firings of the engine.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 10/09/2015 11:43 PM
(FWIW my impression is that the difficulty of printing a gas-driven turbopump brought them to the electric-driven design, which is the underlying design choice that makes the effort so interesting, rather than the 3D printing per se.)

MSFC has done that
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/news/news/releases/2015/successful-nasa-rocket-fuel-pump-tests-pave-way-for-3-d-printed-demonstrator-engine.html
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: sdsds on 10/10/2015 04:42 AM
Even before launch they should be able to demonstrate "fine control" of the engine thrust on a test stand, yes? Is there an expected date for that milestone?
They've had 300 test stand firings of the engine.

Can you disclose the thrust levels those test stand firings demonstrated? Were all of them at 100% of rated thrust?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Alf Fass on 10/10/2015 07:27 AM
Even before launch they should be able to demonstrate "fine control" of the engine thrust on a test stand, yes? Is there an expected date for that milestone?
They've had 300 test stand firings of the engine.

Can you disclose the thrust levels those test stand firings demonstrated? Were all of them at 100% of rated thrust?

I assume they did the tests to test the engine, and I'm betting that testing the engine involves putting it to the test.

Are you suspecting that they did tests that were at less than rated thrust so that the engine wouldn't fail the tests?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/10/2015 07:40 AM
Even before launch they should be able to demonstrate "fine control" of the engine thrust on a test stand, yes? Is there an expected date for that milestone?
They've had 300 test stand firings of the engine.

Can you disclose the thrust levels those test stand firings demonstrated? Were all of them at 100% of rated thrust?

I assume they did the tests to test the engine, and I'm betting that testing the engine involves putting it to the test.

Are you suspecting that they did tests that were at less than rated thrust so that the engine wouldn't fail the tests?

There are reasons for testing at reduced thrust other than just for PR purposes to avoid failing.

They might have had a program where they started at low thrust, for example and gradually increased the thrust.  So only the later tests might have been at full thrust.

Or they might not be done testing so they might not have hit full thrust yet.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Alf Fass on 10/10/2015 07:48 AM
Call me a starry eyed optimist, but as they've been testing the Rutherford engine since 2013 and are still talking about a launch end of 2015, I'm betting that they've run all of tests they consider necessary.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 10/10/2015 05:24 PM
300 Engine tests says volumes when combined with 3D printing.  See if your "iffy" in some area you can print out 5 different models to test.  At this size the cost, and time involved minimal.
Try quoting a thrust chamber on DMLS machine with large enough working envelope ;) I wouldn't call either  the cost or time involved exactly minimal - but yeah, it beats traditional methods.

Important to remember though that additive manufacturing techniques cant do all that you'd want - coatings and surface treatments and so on.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Prober on 10/10/2015 06:31 PM
300 Engine tests says volumes when combined with 3D printing.  See if your "iffy" in some area you can print out 5 different models to test.  At this size the cost, and time involved minimal.
Try quoting a thrust chamber on DMLS machine with large enough working envelope ;) I wouldn't call either  the cost or time involved exactly minimal - but yeah, it beats traditional methods.

Important to remember though that additive manufacturing techniques cant do all that you'd want - coatings and surface treatments and so on.

coatings & surface treatment costs are still there but are also needed in conventional processes (a wash cost wise).  On the same hand some of these parts can't be built conventionally.
 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: LouScheffer on 10/13/2015 03:48 AM
BTW, RocketLab is not the only one choosing an electric pump for a smallsat launcher. If you click through the builders on this thread :
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38583.0
You'll find a few others. Ventions for example, who is prototyping for ALASA and also providing engineering services/components to some others
http://ventions.com/menu/

I doubt that the electric pumps will scale well to big first stage engines, and the optimization would go towards as short engine burns as possible
Why would a short burn be better?  You need to pump exactly the same amount of fuel (1 tank full) up the same pressure gradient.   So it's the same number of joules in either case.  And it might be easier to get the power out of the battery over a longer time interval, favoring longer burns.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 10/14/2015 02:50 AM
This Terrestrial Return Vehicle which is design for quick returns of experiments from ISS, will be delivered by ISS cargo vehicles.

https://intuitivemachines.com/news/trv/

Given the size of this vehicle it maybe possible for a small LV eg Electron to deliver it to space. For some experiments it may not even require a ISS visit, just a few hours or days in space.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: chipguy on 10/14/2015 04:48 PM
BTW, RocketLab is not the only one choosing an electric pump for a smallsat launcher. If you click through the builders on this thread :
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38583.0
You'll find a few others. Ventions for example, who is prototyping for ALASA and also providing engineering services/components to some others
http://ventions.com/menu/

I doubt that the electric pumps will scale well to big first stage engines, and the optimization would go towards as short engine burns as possible
Why would a short burn be better?  You need to pump exactly the same amount of fuel (1 tank full) up the same pressure gradient.   So it's the same number of joules in either case.  And it might be easier to get the power out of the battery over a longer time interval, favoring longer burns.

Indeed. Higher the current draw the higher the battery self-heating from internal resistance
so more of the stored energy is lost before reaching the pump motors for a given setup.

Optimizing the entire system is an interesting engineering problem crossing many disciplines.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Comga on 10/14/2015 07:03 PM
NASA Awards Venture Class Launch Services Contracts for CubeSat Satellites

NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) has awarded multiple Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) contracts to provide small satellites (SmallSats) -- also called CubeSats, microsats or nanosatellites -- access to low-Earth orbit.
The three companies selected to provide these new commercial launch capabilities, and the value of their firm fixed-price contracts, are:

•   Firefly Space Systems Inc. of Cedar Park, Texas, $5.5 million
•   Rocket Lab USA Inc. of Los Angeles, $6.9 million

•   Virgin Galactic LLC of Long Beach, California, $4.7 million

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38583.msg1435883#msg1435883

Edit: This seems to have been announced before, back on Sept 30:
http://spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=47906

"VCLS is a Firm-Fixed Price contract for a dedicated launch service for U-Class satellites with NASA having sole responsibility for the payload on the launch vehicle."

That looks like a contracted launch, but without any indication of the date.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Scylla on 10/14/2015 08:01 PM
Quote
That looks like a contracted launch, but without any indication of the date.

Rocket Lab Wins $6.95M NASA Launch Contract

Rocket Lab has been awarded a Venture Class Launch Services contract from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The contract, valued at $6.95M, is for the launch of a NASA payload to low-Earth Orbit on one of Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicles. NASA’s payload is scheduled to fly on Electron’s fifth flight between late 2016 and early 2017.
http://www.rocketlabusa.com/rocket-lab-wins-6-95m-nasa-launch-contract/

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 10/14/2015 10:50 PM
NASA Awards Venture Class Launch Services Contracts for CubeSat Satellites

NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) has awarded multiple Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) contracts to provide small satellites (SmallSats) -- also called CubeSats, microsats or nanosatellites -- access to low-Earth orbit.
The three companies selected to provide these new commercial launch capabilities, and the value of their firm fixed-price contracts, are:

•   Firefly Space Systems Inc. of Cedar Park, Texas, $5.5 million
•   Rocket Lab USA Inc. of Los Angeles, $6.9 million

•   Virgin Galactic LLC of Long Beach, California, $4.7 million

So, remembering SpX's Falcon 1 drama, is it now SOP to award multi-million dollar fixed-price contacts to companies who haven't even flown a test article yet??
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: catdlr on 10/14/2015 11:39 PM
Rocket Lab USA Selected for Venture Class Launches

Published on Oct 14, 2015
Rocket Lab USA, based in Los Angeles, plans to use its carbon-composite Electron rocket to send CubeSats into space. The Electron is powered by Rocket Lab's Rutherford engine, a 3D printed engine that uses batteries to drive its pumps. Electron is designed to loft about 330 pounds to a 310-mile-high, sun-sychronous orbit, so the rocket can a combination of CubeSats or small satellites.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEOCq6KcwXo
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Prober on 10/16/2015 01:04 PM
NASA Awards Venture Class Launch Services Contracts for CubeSat Satellites

NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) has awarded multiple Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) contracts to provide small satellites (SmallSats) -- also called CubeSats, microsats or nanosatellites -- access to low-Earth orbit.
The three companies selected to provide these new commercial launch capabilities, and the value of their firm fixed-price contracts, are:

•   Firefly Space Systems Inc. of Cedar Park, Texas, $5.5 million
•   Rocket Lab USA Inc. of Los Angeles, $6.9 million

•   Virgin Galactic LLC of Long Beach, California, $4.7 million

So, remembering SpX's Falcon 1 drama, is it now SOP to award multi-million dollar fixed-price contacts to companies who haven't even flown a test article yet??

think this is the plan its called "commercial"
 ;D
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 10/16/2015 02:51 PM
NASA does have a need for these small LVs. This award is one way to help these companies by giving them some creditability. The new small LV pad at LC39C has also given these companies another pad at a very low cost.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Klebiano on 10/16/2015 02:57 PM
The batteries weight already cover the weight of the gas generator and the fuel that it consume?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 10/16/2015 04:55 PM
So, remembering SpX's Falcon 1 drama, is it now SOP to award multi-million dollar fixed-price contacts to companies who haven't even flown a test article yet??

think this is the plan its called "commercial"
 ;D

Listen to the press conference, NASA wont be the first customer by far at least for Electron. Again, as Beck said, they have their initial manifest pretty well filled with other, commercial customers.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Prober on 11/03/2015 12:46 PM
Nice little article with new info bits & new pics

Space revolution hatching in a New Zealand paddock

http://news.yahoo.com/space-revolution-hatching-zealand-paddock-041207164--finance.html

"The rocket launch range is not just New Zealand's first of any kind, but also the world's first private launch range"

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 11/03/2015 09:56 PM
Alaska Aerospace to provide range safety for Rocktlab flights.

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=47233
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 11/04/2015 12:01 AM
Nice little article with new info bits & new pics

Space revolution hatching in a New Zealand paddock

http://news.yahoo.com/space-revolution-hatching-zealand-paddock-041207164--finance.html

"The rocket launch range is not just New Zealand's first of any kind, but also the world's first private launch range"

Jean-Patrice Keka would disagree that it's the world's first private launch range.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/one-africans-personal-space-race-turns-vermin-into-astronauts-1446239060

Maybe they should say "the world's first private orbital launch range."
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: elvis on 11/16/2015 08:43 PM
Nice little article with new info bits & new pics

Space revolution hatching in a New Zealand paddock

http://news.yahoo.com/space-revolution-hatching-zealand-paddock-041207164--finance.html

"The rocket launch range is not just New Zealand's first of any kind, but also the world's first private launch range"

Jean-Patrice Keka would disagree that it's the world's first private launch range.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/one-africans-personal-space-race-turns-vermin-into-astronauts-1446239060

Maybe they should say "the world's first private orbital launch range."


Sea Launch would likely disagree as well.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 11/22/2015 01:52 AM
Rocket lab first choice of launch location has been put on back burner. I think Rocket lab underestimated the non technical issues with building and launching a LV. Getting permission to build a launch pad that meets their requirements.

http://i.stuff.co.nz/business/73935090/kaitorete-spit-on-the-back-burner-for-rocket-lab-launch
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Prober on 11/22/2015 03:20 PM
Rocket lab first choice of launch location has been put on back burner. I think Rocket lab underestimated the non technical issues with building and launching a LV. Getting permission to build a launch pad that meets their requirements.

http://i.stuff.co.nz/business/73935090/kaitorete-spit-on-the-back-burner-for-rocket-lab-launch

been waiting to hear on this project.

"Mahia would be used in 2016 for Rocket Lab's test fire programme, which would lead to commercial flights in 2017."

Kinda confusing article does test fire mean test launch?

nice HW pic, can't get enough  :)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 11/22/2015 10:35 PM
Rocket lab first choice of launch location has been put on back burner. I think Rocket lab underestimated the non technical issues with building and launching a LV. Getting permission to build a launch pad that meets their requirements.

http://i.stuff.co.nz/business/73935090/kaitorete-spit-on-the-back-burner-for-rocket-lab-launch

been waiting to hear on this project.

"Mahia would be used in 2016 for Rocket Lab's test fire programme, which would lead to commercial flights in 2017."

Kinda confusing article does test fire mean test launch?

Probably both..  Their head office (and production facility) is in Auckland, meaning the Mahia Peninsula is physically closer than the Kaitorete Spit down south - but given the roads involved, presumably only by boat! :)

According to the article, the biggest issues around the Canterbury area are cultural and, presumably, also earthquake-related and thus tied up in red tape.

IMHO, this might slow them down a little..
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 11/22/2015 11:19 PM
It shouldn't slow them down to much as launch rate is more likely restricted by production rate. Once pad is operational they should be able to catch up their backlog in a few months.

The big issue is building unproven LVs. They may have to rework built LVs if there are issues with first launch or two.


Road transport should be straight forward. All up length is 16M so 1st stage should be around 12m or less.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 11/23/2015 12:31 AM
It shouldn't slow them down to much as launch rate is more likely restricted by production rate. Once pad is operational they should be able to catch up their backlog in a few months.

They want to do a launch a week.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 11/29/2015 09:12 PM
Looks like they are ready to start construction of Mahia launch pad.

http://m.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11553132
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Prober on 11/29/2015 09:27 PM
Looks like they are ready to start construction of Mahia launch pad.

http://m.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11553132

a mix of good and a slip :(    looks like the launch site red tape bit them.

but this is worth a look...
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 11/30/2015 03:39 AM
First flight is now mid 2016 according to that article.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jamesh9000 on 11/30/2015 05:44 AM
If they're only just starting to construct the launch pad I'd be surprised to see a launch in 2016. Mostly because they'll be coming up against a bunch more issues for the first time.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 11/30/2015 07:23 AM
Here is another article.

http://gisborneherald.co.nz/localnews/2028665-135/moon-no-limit-for-mahia-launch
Mr Beck said work to prepare the launch pad site at Onenui Station would start as early as next week. That would involve creating a 4km access road and a concrete landing pad, along with a hangar with integrated launch-control facilities.

I'm assuming the "landing pad" was meant to be "launch pad".

Older article but has complete picture of launch site. See pickup truck for scale. I don't think this launch pad will take that long to construct..
The hangar will need to be constructed on site, but is not a complicated building. Most of the infrastructure, including pad can be built offsite and may have already been built.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/70149880/Rocket-Lab-could-make-Canterbury-space-centre-of-Southern-Hemisphere
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 11/30/2015 09:56 PM
I'm assuming the "landing pad" was meant to be "launch pad".

Or maybe it's for helicopter access?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 12/02/2015 07:18 PM
June16 launch from Mahia pad.

http://gisborneherald.co.nz/localnews/2039613-135/rocket-lab-launch-site-blessed

THE final frontier could be conquered as early as next June, when Rocket Lab expects to begin launching test rockets into space from its Mahia Peninsula site.

For Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck, launching his first 16m Electron rocket into space from what will be the world’s first commercial orbital launch site is a life-long dream.

On Saturday the remote site on Onenui Station was blessed and the lease agreement signed between Rocket Lab and the landowners — representatives of Tawapata South Incorporation.

Mr Beck gave a small perspex box to the spokesman for Tawapatu, George Mackey. He invited him to place things that are special to them in it, to be sent into orbit with the first launch next June. Some Onenui soil went into the box first.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 12/03/2015 12:10 AM
From the video linked to the above release.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 12/03/2015 12:30 AM
Off topic, but reminds me when SpaceX was bragging about entire mission control for Falcon 1 being housed in a truck trailer.


Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Zed_Noir on 12/03/2015 05:13 AM
Off topic, but reminds me when SpaceX was bragging about entire mission control for Falcon 1 being housed in a truck trailer.

Think SpaceX was copying the Wehrmacht's V-2 mobile launch ops & launch logistics.  :-X
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Alf Fass on 12/04/2015 06:49 AM
Timetable screwed up by NZ local Government, no surprises there.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 12/04/2015 08:56 AM
Timetable screwed up by NZ local Government, no surprises there.
Not necessarily local government  fault. With resource consents anybody can protest against a development and slow it down. A lot of time people have genuine concerns which need to be addressed.

With south island launch site, I don't know if this is case but in August articles it seems like Rocket lab had local government on their side.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Alf Fass on 12/04/2015 04:02 PM
From the Stuff article:
Quote
The Department of Conservation also granted permission, but Rocket Lab still needed consents from the Christchurch City Council, which was waiting for a Cultural Impact Assessment to be completed.

"As a result, the application has not been progressed by the council and therefore no decision as to notification under Section 95 of the Resource Management Act 1991 has been made.

"The substantive decision making under Section 104 has also not been undertaken," a council spokeswoman said

Nothing there about objections, "waiting for a Cultural Impact Assessment to be completed" and "As a result, the application has not been progressed" is code for: "application sitting on a desk gathering dust".
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 12/04/2015 06:06 PM
If delays are due to slow wheels of Christchurch CC, it may well cost them a LV factory and jobs that go with it.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 12/21/2015 11:03 PM
Work has started on Mahia launch site.
2017 and 2018 fully booked with approx one launch per month.

https://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiJmcCQk-7JAhWnMKYKHUsACEsQqQIIMTAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.3news.co.nz%2Fnznews%2Frocket-lab-begins-work-in-mahia-2015122119&usg=AFQjCNFJqTQ7hL3N4v40WKLSpDCtp2XvPg

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 12/21/2015 11:34 PM
Some captures of the video in the article in the previous post.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 01/04/2016 03:56 AM
Work has started on Mahia launch site.
2017 and 2018 fully booked with approx one launch per month.

https://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiJmcCQk-7JAhWnMKYKHUsACEsQqQIIMTAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.3news.co.nz%2Fnznews%2Frocket-lab-begins-work-in-mahia-2015122119&usg=AFQjCNFJqTQ7hL3N4v40WKLSpDCtp2XvPg

FWIW, I just got back from a 2-week cruise to NZ.  We parked off Gisborne briefly, but couldn't get ashore to talk to the locals due to 2 metre waves at the entrance to the harbour caused by a south-easterly swell right up the guts... so we sailed away, bound for Wellington.

Anyways, I didn't spot anything significant on Mahia as we went past apart from the usual trees, grass and hills.. but from that distance off-shore I didn't really expect to.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Danderman on 01/04/2016 11:29 PM
The ITAR issues mean that exporting a missile to another country is problematic.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 01/04/2016 11:34 PM
The ITAR issues mean that exporting a missile to another country is problematic.

It's more trouble than if ITAR didn't exist, but it's not as impossible as some would have us believe. "It's just paperwork", as they say.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 01/05/2016 07:07 AM
The Electron is built and launched in NZ so there is no export issues except for payloads and that is certain countries. Importing Electron into USA for  launching shouldn't be issue either.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 01/05/2016 07:10 AM
http://www.rocketlabusa.com/careers/propulsion-careers/propulsion-test-engineer-2/

Quote
For security reasons background checks will be undertaken prior to any employment offers being made to an applicant.  These checks will include nationality checks as it is a requirement of this position that you be eligible to access equipment and data regulated by the United States’ International Traffic in Arms Regulations.  Under these Regulations, you may be ineligible for this role if you do not hold citizenship of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, the European Union or a country that is part of NATO, or if you hold ineligible dual citizenship or nationality.  For more information on these Regulations, click here http://www.pmddtc.state.gov/regulations_laws/itar.html.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 01/05/2016 09:37 PM
http://www.rocketlabusa.com/careers/propulsion-careers/propulsion-test-engineer-2/

Quote
For security reasons background checks will be undertaken prior to any employment offers being made to an applicant.  These checks will include nationality checks as it is a requirement of this position that you be eligible to access equipment and data regulated by the United States’ International Traffic in Arms Regulations.  Under these Regulations, you may be ineligible for this role if you do not hold citizenship of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, the European Union or a country that is part of NATO, or if you hold ineligible dual citizenship or nationality.  For more information on these Regulations, click here http://www.pmddtc.state.gov/regulations_laws/itar.html.

Thinking of applying for the job, QG??  :D
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 01/05/2016 10:18 PM
Thinking of applying for the job, QG??  :D

There's few things that could make me move to NZ...
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Alf Fass on 01/07/2016 12:47 AM

There's few things that could make me move to NZ...

Wow, that is good news...
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 01/07/2016 12:53 AM

There's few things that could make me move to NZ...

Wow, that is good news...

Good for the Kiwis?  Or good for Oz??  ???

Fact is, at least there's an active space-launch program, under a supportive government, in Aotearoa.. and that's something that we aren't likely to see in these parts for decades to come.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: RoboGoofers on 01/13/2016 06:10 PM
is there anything better, currently, than LIon for the turbopump motor? I'm not sure there's an optimized power source for such a use case:  very high capacity, non-reusable, light.

-perhaps a flow battery? dump the used electrolyte overboard?
-i read something about cruise missiles using zinc-silver peroxide batteries, but it was a very old article
-run a fuel cell really hot but cool it with LOX? or cool LIon with LOX?
-supercapacitors?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: randomly on 01/13/2016 07:15 PM
you need both high energy density AND high power density. You need to dump all the energy in a matter of minutes.
flow batteries won't beat out Li-ion, they have both poor energy density and poor power density.
I don't think fuel cells will either, power density limitations. at least not in an overall pro's and con's tradeoff.

The most viable alternative I can think of is hypergolics into a turbine/generator... but that's going away from their goal of simplicity.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: gin455res on 01/13/2016 07:33 PM
How about one  turbo-generator (or piston-generator), running nine fuel, and nine oxidizer electric pumps?

[Perhaps batteries, for boost-back, re-entry and landing for a falcon-9-esque reusable, electron.]
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 01/14/2016 08:37 PM
-perhaps a flow battery? dump the used electrolyte overboard?
-i read something about cruise missiles using zinc-silver peroxide batteries, but it was a very old article
-run a fuel cell really hot but cool it with LOX? or cool LIon with LOX?
-supercapacitors?
Supercapacitors might win on the scale of seconds but not minutes. Fuel cells are too heavy. Cruise missiles are storable munitions, different tradeoffs.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/14/2016 08:44 PM
There are some fancy chemistry primary lithium batteries that get like 2-3x lithium ion energy density, but I'm not aware of anything that beats good LiPos for high power density.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 01/14/2016 10:11 PM
One of the other small LVs was also using electric pumps but I can't remember which one.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Skyrocket on 01/14/2016 10:21 PM
One of the other small LVs was also using electric pumps but I can't remember which one.

It is the air-launched SALVO rocket, designed by Ventions for DARPA. Very secretive, not much known.

http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau/salvo.htm
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: c4fusion on 01/16/2016 01:13 AM
There are some fancy chemistry primary lithium batteries that get like 2-3x lithium ion energy density, but I'm not aware of anything that beats good LiPos for high power density.
Well maybe not power density, but there is a couple of semi commercial products that have higher energy density.  One of them is a nano-silicon anode for a lithium chemistry battery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISEzvNevyck?t=2579 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISEzvNevyck?t=2579), interesting lecture by SLAC.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/17/2016 01:40 AM
There are some fancy chemistry primary lithium batteries that get like 2-3x lithium ion energy density, but I'm not aware of anything that beats good LiPos for high power density.
Well maybe not power density, but there is a couple of semi commercial products that have higher energy density.  One of them is a nano-silicon anode for a lithium chemistry battery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISEzvNevyck?t=2579 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISEzvNevyck?t=2579), interesting lecture by SLAC.
That's nothing. 350Wh/kg is par for the course for lab-queen cells.

These primary cells, lithium-thionyl chloride chemistry, get 760Wh/kg:
http://www.varta-microbattery.com/applications/mb_data/documents/sales_literature_varta/handbook_primary_lithium_cylindrical_series_er_en.pdf

If you only need to use it once, you can do about 3 times as good as regular Lithium Ion batteries using this kind of chemistry. But I doubt they can discharge as quickly as some nice hobby LiPos.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: c4fusion on 01/17/2016 05:15 AM
There are some fancy chemistry primary lithium batteries that get like 2-3x lithium ion energy density, but I'm not aware of anything that beats good LiPos for high power density.
Well maybe not power density, but there is a couple of semi commercial products that have higher energy density.  One of them is a nano-silicon anode for a lithium chemistry battery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISEzvNevyck?t=2579 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISEzvNevyck?t=2579), interesting lecture by SLAC.
That's nothing. 350Wh/kg is par for the course for lab-queen cells.

These primary cells, lithium-thionyl chloride chemistry, get 760Wh/kg:
http://www.varta-microbattery.com/applications/mb_data/documents/sales_literature_varta/handbook_primary_lithium_cylindrical_series_er_en.pdf

If you only need to use it once, you can do about 3 times as good as regular Lithium Ion batteries using this kind of chemistry. But I doubt they can discharge as quickly as some nice hobby LiPos.

I guess what I am trying to say is that there might be some new batteries that are coming out within the year that might be better than LiPo :)

Cheers,
c4fusion
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: A_M_Swallow on 01/17/2016 05:21 AM
There are some fancy chemistry primary lithium batteries that get like 2-3x lithium ion energy density, but I'm not aware of anything that beats good LiPos for high power density.
Well maybe not power density, but there is a couple of semi commercial products that have higher energy density.  One of them is a nano-silicon anode for a lithium chemistry battery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISEzvNevyck?t=2579 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISEzvNevyck?t=2579), interesting lecture by SLAC.
That's nothing. 350Wh/kg is par for the course for lab-queen cells.

These primary cells, lithium-thionyl chloride chemistry, get 760Wh/kg:
http://www.varta-microbattery.com/applications/mb_data/documents/sales_literature_varta/handbook_primary_lithium_cylindrical_series_er_en.pdf

If you only need to use it once, you can do about 3 times as good as regular Lithium Ion batteries using this kind of chemistry. But I doubt they can discharge as quickly as some nice hobby LiPos.

I guess what I am trying to say is that there might be some new batteries that are coming out within the year that might be better than LiPo :)

Cheers,
c4fusion

With 10 year development cycles the space community is slow to take on new technology. Also they do not like the risk of being the first to use something.

For about $200,000 a 1U cubesat to flight test the new batteries can be built and flown. If they work the manufacture can then claim TRL 9 status for his new batteries (and controller).
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jamesh9000 on 01/20/2016 07:47 AM
According to local media, the launch site construction is still on target for March. Considering it only started in December that seems awfully soon, but if it's not too large a site I guess its ok.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503462&objectid=11575931 (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503462&objectid=11575931)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: acsawdey on 01/20/2016 02:19 PM
There are some fancy chemistry primary lithium batteries that get like 2-3x lithium ion energy density, but I'm not aware of anything that beats good LiPos for high power density.
Well maybe not power density, but there is a couple of semi commercial products that have higher energy density.  One of them is a nano-silicon anode for a lithium chemistry battery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISEzvNevyck?t=2579 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISEzvNevyck?t=2579), interesting lecture by SLAC.
That's nothing. 350Wh/kg is par for the course for lab-queen cells.

These primary cells, lithium-thionyl chloride chemistry, get 760Wh/kg:
http://www.varta-microbattery.com/applications/mb_data/documents/sales_literature_varta/handbook_primary_lithium_cylindrical_series_er_en.pdf

If you only need to use it once, you can do about 3 times as good as regular Lithium Ion batteries using this kind of chemistry. But I doubt they can discharge as quickly as some nice hobby LiPos.

The discharge rate on these cells is nearly 3 orders of magnitude too low. My calculations based on what's been said about the power and energy needed for the Electron first stage pumps suggested you wanted cells with a discharge rate of 20-25C so that the power and energy needs would match, i.e. the battery is empty at the end of the first stage burn. This cell has a capacity of 1200mAh at a discharge rate of 1 mA, or 0.00083C. At 20 mA you get half capacity or 600mAh which is 0.033C. So this battery technology is completely unsuited to this use unless there is research that suggest the internal resistance can be radically reduced.

The thing is, you could go order a pile of LiPo cells from hobbyking and build a pack that would work for Electron. Sure, it's weight could be improved but it's not so bad that you lose all your payload. Then you can incrementally improve from there.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Katana on 01/22/2016 02:38 PM
20~25C makes perfect tradeoff between power density and energy density.

R/C hobby packs, motors, brushless  controllers could be large. Multirotors and boats are large now . Customized products go larger.

In fact the bright color of motor on Rutherford looks popular in R/C hobby industry.

Without customization: Largest COTS brushless controllers i know  includes Swordfish watercooled 12S (48V) 240A. Could use 12S(48V) 16000mAh packs and 10kw 1kg  motors. This yields 500kgf thrust with 1.5MPa chamber pressure , low but useable. Assume pump efficiency 30%, isp  240s, isp vac  300s .

Use  304 stainless steel  watertank for solar heater for propellant tanks. Thickness 0.31mm, diameter 360mm, length 0.5~2.5m each .

Use Soyuz rocket  style 2 stages and a half configuration,10kg payload (6U  cubesat ) to orbit (dv=10km/s)  is possible .

Amateur  launcher?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: acsawdey on 01/22/2016 03:48 PM
Without customization: Largest COTS brushless controllers i know  includes Swordfish watercooled 12S (48V) 240A. Could use 12S(48V) 16000mAh packs and 10kw 1kg  motors. This yields 500kgf thrust with 1.5MPa chamber pressure , low but useable. Assume pump efficiency 30%, isp  240s, isp vac  300s .

Use  304 stainless steel  watertank for solar heater for propellant tanks. Thickness 0.31mm, diameter 360mm, length 0.5~2.5m each .

Use Soyuz rocket  style 2 stages and a half configuration,10kg payload (6U  cubesat ) to orbit (dv=10km/s)  is possible .

Amateur  launcher?

All COTS parts would make sense for an amateur launcher. However it's not that hard to build bigger brushless motors, and if you hired a decent EE they could build you as big a controller as you need. There is a huge growth in expertise here due to hybrid and electric vehicles, and the need for high efficiency motors for appliances and industry. Heatsink the controllers to the LOX pump output pipe for cooling.

Is the 240/300 isp you estimate due to the low chamber pressure limiting how much sea level expansion you can have? Also this design seems well suited for a bunch of small chambers around a plug aerospike. Since you don't have a gas generator and power turbine to deal with, chance of RUD seems low if your engine controller regulates pump speed and shuts down if increased motor load indicates a pump failure in progress. With benign failure modes, you can use a lot of little engines to increase reliability.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Katana on 01/22/2016 11:04 PM
Without customization: Largest COTS brushless controllers i know includes Swordfish watercooled 12S (48V) 240A. Could use 12S(48V) 16000mAh packs and 10kw 1kg  motors. This yields 500kgf thrust with 1.5MPa chamber pressure , low but useable. Assume pump efficiency 30%, isp  240s, isp vac  300s .

Use  304 stainless steel  watertank for solar heater for propellant tanks. Thickness 0.31mm, diameter 360mm, length 0.5~2.5m each .

Use Soyuz rocket  style 2 stages and a half configuration,10kg payload (6U  cubesat ) to orbit (dv=10km/s)  is possible .

Amateur  launcher?

All COTS parts would make sense for an amateur launcher. However it's not that hard to build bigger brushless motors, and if you hired a decent EE they could build you as big a controller as you need. There is a huge growth in expertise here due to hybrid and electric vehicles, and the need for high efficiency motors for appliances and industry. Heatsink the controllers to the LOX pump output pipe for cooling.

Is the 240/300 isp you estimate due to the low chamber pressure limiting how much sea level expansion you can have? Also this design seems well suited for a bunch of small chambers around a plug aerospike. Since you don't have a gas generator and power turbine to deal with, chance of RUD seems low if your engine controller regulates pump speed and shuts down if increased motor load indicates a pump failure in progress. With benign failure modes, you can use a lot of little engines to increase reliability.
240/300 isp come from different version of sl / vacuum noozles, conventional. It's not worthy to develop plug noozle in such a small but multidisciplinary project. Keep everything simple.

Decent  EE on this power level is industrial conventional but hard (myself worked on E vehicles for years). And the controller project maybe more slow and expensive than the engine project itself. Typically controllers RUD everyday during development.

So it's better to spend decent knowledge on choose and TEST reliable COTS, until big big funding enable do everything inhouse.

The difficulty of rocketary are similar to car industry on every aspects, SpaceX and Tesla. Things typical to industry are huge for startup companies.

"Amateur  launcher "with amateur COTS really need money typical to business startups.  Indeed business startups of other industry do use amateur COTS,  arduino, etc.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Danderman on 02/04/2016 09:11 PM
Sounds like an interesting discussion, but is happening with this company?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 02/04/2016 09:48 PM
Apparently this is "fan art" but RocketLab shared it.

I, for one, look forward to watching the grass fires.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/Solarexploration/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 02/05/2016 12:19 AM
Cool artwork, is it painted or computer generated?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: c4fusion on 02/06/2016 06:10 AM
Apparently this is "fan art" but RocketLab shared it.

I, for one, look forward to watching the grass fires.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/Solarexploration/

Well, they want to give themselves a 'green' image.  But in seriousness, this is probably just for the picture as their official images seem to show a lot less grass.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 02/14/2016 12:54 AM
NB Both companies are funded by Bessemer Venture Partners.

"While Rocket Lab has yet to fly their first commercial mission, Spire has made an agreement with the launch provider for an impressive 12 launches over the next 18 months once their launch facility is complete."

http://techcrunch.com/2016/02/12/newcomer-rocket-lab-secures-spire-as-their-next-customer/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 02/26/2016 09:54 AM

Rocket Lab announced today that Garrett Katzenstein has joined the company as Vice President of Product and Mission Management. Katzenstein will oversee customer experience from point of sale through vehicle integration and successful launch.

Katzenstein was most recently the Senior Manager for Mission and Launch Operations at SpaceX.


http://spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=48022

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jamesh9000 on 03/08/2016 02:17 AM
Small update: they still seem to be holding to timetable for the launch site, and still saying "mid 2016" for the first launch, although my money would be on "late 2016":



Wairoa District Council is "aggressively" pursuing a bid for the district to be the base of a manufacturing facility for United States-based company Rocket Lab.

The company hopes to complete construction of New Zealand's first commercial rocket launch site on Mahia Peninsula this month, with a target to complete infrastructure and commissioning in late April.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503462&objectid=11600621 (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503462&objectid=11600621)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: chalz on 03/22/2016 06:16 AM
A news story linked a few weeks ago on @rocketlabusa includes a video which I have included some stills from.

http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/young-boy-with-brain-tumour-fulfills-his-rocket-dream-2016022117#axzz41DhErvzR

It appears to show a larger engine test stand than before. The kid involved got to sign his name on the rocket 'that will be the first to go to space'. It looks to me like part of the second stage.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 03/23/2016 12:37 AM
Quote from: Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab's Rutherford Engine has been qualified for flight after the completion of a rigorous test program. The Rutherford engine has been created by Rocket Lab specifically for the Electron launch vehicle. As the first oxygen/hydrocarbon engine to use additive manufacturing for all primary components of the combustor and propellant supply system, the qualification of this engine is a major milestone for 3D printing. Check out the video below to see the Rutherford in action.

https://vimeo.com/160032981#at=0

Quote from: Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab today announced its Rutherford Engine has been qualified for flight after the completion of a rigorous test program.

The 5,000 lbf Rutherford engine was created by Rocket Lab specifically for the company’s Electron launch vehicle. Rutherford has been tested extensively for over two years, and was qualified for flight after completing more than two hundred engine hot fires. The engine will first be flown during the Electron test program scheduled to run throughout the second half of 2016.

The qualification of the engine is a major milestone for 3D printing; Rutherford is the first oxygen/hydrocarbon engine to use additive manufacturing for all primary components of the combustor and propellant supply system. Rutherford also has a unique electric propulsion cycle, making use of high-performance brushless DC electric motors and lithium polymer batteries to drive its turbopumps.

Electron uses nine Rutherford engines on its first stage, and a vacuum variant of the same engine on its second stage. The vehicle is capable of delivering a 150kg payload to a 500km sun-synchronous orbit, the target range for the high-growth constellation-satellite market.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Prober on 03/26/2016 01:12 PM
Update


http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34421.msg1508348#msg1508348



Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 03/31/2016 12:07 AM
Rocket lab looking at using Electron as upper stage of DARPA XS1.

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2016/03/30/darpa-sbir-awards-xs1-rocket-technologies/

Low Cost Expendable Launch Technology

Rocket Lab USA, Inc.
Frederick, Colo.

Program: DARPA SBIR Phase I
Year: 2015
Amount: $99,964
Principal Investigator: Bradley J Schneider

Description

Rocket Lab USA, Inc. proposes to develop and demonstrate how the use of the Electron launch vehicle either as an upper stage in support of the XS-1 program or dedicated small launch vehicle could employ the use of Automated Flight Termination (AFTS) technologies to reduce the cost of access to space without adversely impacting public safety. Providing the launch opportunity to obtain flight telemetry from Rocket Lab’s initial test flight will enable the development of a ruggedized AFTS for future DARPA, NASA and commercial launch campaigns.

Novel Propellant, High-

- See more at: http://www.parabolicarc.com/2016/03/30/darpa-sbir-awards-xs1-rocket-technologies/#sthash.wvr3JYuy.r4dM3B2P.dpuf
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jongoff on 03/31/2016 12:25 AM
Rocket lab looking at using Electron as upper stage of DARPA XS1.

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2016/03/30/darpa-sbir-awards-xs1-rocket-technologies/

Low Cost Expendable Launch Technology

Rocket Lab USA, Inc.
Frederick, Colo.

Program: DARPA SBIR Phase I
Year: 2015
Amount: $99,964
Principal Investigator: Bradley J Schneider

Description

Rocket Lab USA, Inc. proposes to develop and demonstrate how the use of the Electron launch vehicle either as an upper stage in support of the XS-1 program or dedicated small launch vehicle could employ the use of Automated Flight Termination (AFTS) technologies to reduce the cost of access to space without adversely impacting public safety. Providing the launch opportunity to obtain flight telemetry from Rocket Lab’s initial test flight will enable the development of a ruggedized AFTS for future DARPA, NASA and commercial launch campaigns.

Novel Propellant, High-

- See more at: http://www.parabolicarc.com/2016/03/30/darpa-sbir-awards-xs1-rocket-technologies/#sthash.wvr3JYuy.r4dM3B2P.dpuf

Note that this was a feasibility study award from a year ago sometime. Does anyone know if Phase II announcements have been made for this batch of Phase Is? I don't often end up proposing to DoD SBIR/STTR solicitations.

~Jon
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 03/31/2016 03:05 AM
What were the nine most terrifying words in English language again? I think for space startups it goes something like: here is a contract from government, it's here to help
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jongoff on 03/31/2016 05:28 AM
What were the nine most terrifying words in English language again? I think for space startups it goes something like: here is a contract from government, it's here to help.

Rocketlab has been doing contracts for the government for years. It's what allowed them to bootstrap far enough to convince investors to fund them to develop Electron. If you don't start out with several $M yourself, it's pretty much one of the only ways to get to a point where you can raise money to develop a commercial product, especially if there is technology development that needs to happen to bring the product to market. It sucks, but it sucks less than not being able to try at all.

~Jon
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 03/31/2016 07:44 AM
There a few possibilities for Electron as XS1 upstage.
1) use booster only with a few vacuum engines (3-4?) for LEO payloads
2) use same booster plus current Electron US for BLEO payloads. Would be perfect for Moon express landers.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 04/01/2016 12:49 AM
What were the nine most terrifying words in English language again? I think for space startups it goes something like: here is a contract from government, it's here to help.

Rocketlab has been doing contracts for the government for years. It's what allowed them to bootstrap far enough to convince investors to fund them to develop Electron. If you don't start out with several $M yourself, it's pretty much one of the only ways to get to a point where you can raise money to develop a commercial product, especially if there is technology development that needs to happen to bring the product to market. It sucks, but it sucks less than not being able to try at all.

Maybe it's just me, but whenever someone mentions Rocketlab Electron, I can't help thinking of the previous use of the name: Teignmouth Electron.. and that didn't end well at all.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: The Amazing Catstronaut on 04/01/2016 12:43 PM


Maybe it's just me, but whenever someone mentions Rocketlab Electron, I can't help thinking of the previous use of the name: Teignmouth Electron.. and that didn't end well at all.

As someone who regularly/regrettably visits the decrepit seaside town of Teignmouth, UK, after which said boat was partially named, I can emphatically tell you that it's the 'Teignmouth' part of the name that doomed that particular vessel to failure, and not the 'Electron' part.  ;)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Kryten on 04/14/2016 12:05 AM
https://rocketlabusa.com/rocket-lab-qualifies-second-stage-of-electron-launch-vehicle/
Quote
Rocket Lab announced today that it has successfully completed the qualification of the entire second stage of the Electron launch vehicle.
The second stages are running at peak performance and are set to fly during the Electron test program scheduled to run throughout the second half of 2016.
https://vimeo.com/162756073#at=0
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jamesh9000 on 05/06/2016 11:15 AM
Here's a terrible quality, grainy picture of the launch site Electron will take off from, still under construction:

(http://gisborneherald.co.nz/csp/mediapool/sites/dt.common.streams.StreamServer.cls?STREAMOID=_$RqWdEt2Q3mxn9RsfwMYs$daE2N3K4ZzOUsqbU5sYvg1KaeF$hf5kQUCwGQV5qnWCsjLu883Ygn4B49Lvm9bPe2QeMKQdVeZmXF$9l$4uCZ8QDXhaHEp3rvzXRJFdy0KqPHLoMevcTLo3h8xh70Y6N_U_CryOsw6FTOdKL_jpQ-&CONTENTTYPE=image/jpeg)

And a link to the story, which has a wee bit of detail as to the progress on the building site. The latest I've heard is that Rocket Lab is saying it will be completed by the end of May, although a month ago it was the end of April, so who knows.

http://gisborneherald.co.nz/localnews/2291095-135/rocket-lab-launches-improved-mahia-internet (http://gisborneherald.co.nz/localnews/2291095-135/rocket-lab-launches-improved-mahia-internet)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 05/06/2016 04:12 PM
Here's a terrible quality, grainy picture of the launch site Electron will take off from, still under construction:


That would be about here : https://goo.gl/maps/cF3wHJXAnbT2
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jamesh9000 on 05/06/2016 11:40 PM
Here's a much nicer picture of the launch site as it looked on April 17. Still under construction:

(https://scontent.fakl1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/12439345_1078779285517598_968442428841854128_n.jpg?oh=06ae00de40bc2029212ffbcc0e293130&oe=57E74653)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 05/07/2016 12:26 AM
Definitely going up nicely, compared to their tweets from Dec-January.

https://twitter.com/RocketLabUSA/status/684920259292213248
https://twitter.com/RocketLabUSA/status/679060608076115968

Their twitter feed has some other nice recent hardware pr0n too, fairings, engines ..
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 05/07/2016 01:21 AM
Picturesque! I do hope they stream the first launch.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 05/07/2016 02:10 AM
Looks like all ground and concrete work is done, still missing fueling infrastructure, water tanks and lightening towers etc.
Most of this is probably being constructed off site, installation shouldn't take to long.
July launch is looking realistic.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Danderman on 05/08/2016 01:25 PM
New Zealand?

I hope they have their ITAR clearances in hand.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: edkyle99 on 05/08/2016 03:16 PM
New Zealand?

I hope they have their ITAR clearances in hand.

Why?  This company is based in New Zealand.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 05/08/2016 04:57 PM
New Zealand?

I hope they have their ITAR clearances in hand.
ITAR only applies to countries USA is not on best of terms with. For DOD launches Rocket labs plans to launch out USA.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: docmordrid on 05/09/2016 12:14 AM
New Zealand?

I hope they have their ITAR clearances in hand.

NZ is part of Five Eyes; a US, UK, Canada, Australia and NZ intelligence alliance dating to WW-2. I think we can trust NZ to keep their end secure.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Alf Fass on 05/09/2016 10:00 AM
New Zealand?

I hope they have their ITAR clearances in hand.

While the majority of the ownership of the company appears to now be American, the technology they're using is being developed and manufactured in New Zealand with most of their top technical people being Kiwi's, so there's no potentially military technology leaving the US.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 05/09/2016 10:07 PM
The payloads from US customers are probably still an issue. Doing ITAR paperwork isn't as painful as most people think. It's just another overhead.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jongoff on 05/09/2016 10:49 PM
ITAR only applies to countries USA is not on best of terms with. For DOD launches Rocket labs plans to launch out USA.

Trevor,

That's not incorrect. ITAR applies to all non-US persons/entities, even those in friendly countries. It's probably easier to get a TAA for talking with the Evil Canadians or exporting rockets to New Zealand for launch than say selling military hardware to Russia or China, but you still have to comply with ITAR even for our closest allies. It's when something falls under EAR that you have STA exemptions you can claim in some cases for close allies. Part of why we pushed so hard to get as much off of the US Munitions List and onto the EAR commerce control list.

~Jon
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 05/09/2016 10:50 PM
The payloads from US customers are probably still an issue. Doing ITAR paperwork isn't as painful as most people think. It's just another overhead.
Presumably no worse than a US company launching on Proton...
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Galactic Penguin SST on 05/10/2016 02:30 AM
Looks like all ground and concrete work is done, still missing fueling infrastructure, water tanks and lightening towers etc.
Most of this is probably being constructed off site, installation shouldn't take to long.
July launch is looking realistic.

I'll believe it when I see their rocket rolled out to the pad with the 1st flight satellites on top. Nothing short of that would convince me. ::)

Speaking of which, who and what satellites are flying on them after all? They claimed that they have bookings for dozens of flights yet most are unaccounted for and the only one identified are some mini Earth observation says from a startup company. Its hard to see how they operates without a clear list of customers.  :-X

(In comparison, look at the earliest days of SpaceX - even then people know who has bought a flight and they could easily assign the booked slots to actual known satellites)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jongoff on 05/10/2016 03:50 AM
Looks like all ground and concrete work is done, still missing fueling infrastructure, water tanks and lightening towers etc.
Most of this is probably being constructed off site, installation shouldn't take to long.
July launch is looking realistic.

Having worked with rocket plumbing before, a July launch when they don't have any of the fuel loading infrastructure in place yet seems... optimistic.

~Jon
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 05/10/2016 04:09 AM
Having worked with rocket plumbing before, a July launch when they don't have any of the fuel loading infrastructure in place yet seems... optimistic.

~Jon

They'll do it in parallel, build all their own components and are totally vertically integrated ! You naysayer

Meanwhile, enjoy this 10-minute interview with Peter Beck

https://unfiltered.co.nz/gcs/peter-beck/#story
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 05/10/2016 04:14 AM
Having worked with rocket plumbing before, a July launch when they don't have any of the fuel loading infrastructure in place yet seems... optimistic.

~Jon

Just curious:  What stops them trucking the fuel in on launch day??  By American standards, this isn't a very big rocket..

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 05/10/2016 04:20 AM
Just curious:  What stops them trucking the fuel in on launch day??  By American standards, this isn't a very big rocket..
A bit of a truck drive, there : https://goo.gl/maps/Y26Ry67XrEq
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 05/10/2016 04:44 AM
Just curious:  What stops them trucking the fuel in on launch day??  By American standards, this isn't a very big rocket..
A bit of a truck drive, there : https://goo.gl/maps/Y26Ry67XrEq

From Auckland, yes.. but from Napier?  Would they really truck the rocket all the way from Auckland??  IIRC, that's a pretty crappy road.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jongoff on 05/10/2016 05:51 AM
Just curious:  What stops them trucking the fuel in on launch day??  By American standards, this isn't a very big rocket..
A bit of a truck drive, there : https://goo.gl/maps/Y26Ry67XrEq

From Auckland, yes.. but from Napier?  Would they really truck the rocket all the way from Auckland??  IIRC, that's a pretty crappy road.

In many ways this reminds me of Falcon I at Kwaj. Their rocket isn't that much smaller than Falcon I, and it was also in a remote site. There's a lot that may go into fueling a rocket this size. And if the fueling infrastructure isn't in place yet, are there other "minor" items that aren't ready yet either. Just a good rule of thumb that once the rocket or test stand "looks" like a rocket or test stand, you're only starting to get close to operations. The rule of thumb I heard from a friend at Scaled was that once a new prototype airplane actually looked like an airplane (ie had wings, wheels, and engines), you were still probably a year out from flight test.

Is it possible they have everything ready to click together, and they won't run into any snags that take time to resolve? Sure. I'm just saying I think that's optimistic. Not impossible, just optimistic. Even if they don't make July though, I think they have a reasonable shot at getting a successful flight off before the end of this year.

~Jon
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Alf Fass on 05/10/2016 06:54 AM

First a couple of questions: How hard would it be set up a LOX plant say a few km away and truck to the site? I don't see evidence of a mains power supply, so given the remoteness, and initial infrequency of launches, would that mean diesel generators would be reasonable to start with? What are the challenges of getting a RP-1 supply, could it be produced from commercial kerosene or at a major refinery or does it need to be sourced off shore?


 There's a lot that may go into fueling a rocket this size. And if the fueling infrastructure isn't in place yet, are there other "minor" items that aren't ready yet either.
~Jon

So what is that specifically, outside of a LOX and RP-1 supply and the equipment to pump them into the rocket?

Thanks.

EDIT:
 Can I compare the complexity of the fueling operation to that of the V2, which was a similar size and fueled with LOX and ethanol, it was launched from a mobile system consisting of 3 trucks (one tractor unit towing the Meillerwagen missile carrier and erector, one LOX tanker, one fuel tanker) and 2 command vehicles.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 05/10/2016 07:04 AM
From Auckland, yes.. but from Napier?  Would they really truck the rocket all the way from Auckland??  IIRC, that's a pretty crappy road.
I actually looked it up. Napier has plenty of infrastructure for this (http://www.boc.co.nz/), and even Wairoa. So yeah, not that far.
Taupo to Auckland isnt bad at all, i've driven this in a van, but the coastal road is probably a bit more adventurous.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Danderman on 05/14/2016 04:36 PM
New Zealand?

I hope they have their ITAR clearances in hand.
ITAR only applies to countries USA is not on best of terms with. For DOD launches Rocket labs plans to launch out USA.

ITAR applies to all countries.


NZ is part of Five Eyes; a US, UK, Canada, Australia and NZ intelligence alliance dating to WW-2. I think we can trust NZ to keep their end secure.

Doesn't matter, this company must obtain a TAA to even discuss rocketry with nationals of New Zealand.


While the majority of the ownership of the company appears to now be American, the technology they're using is being developed and manufactured in New Zealand with most of their top technical people being Kiwi's, so there's no potentially military technology leaving the US.

As long as no Americans have any unlicensed discussions with nationals of New Zealand, there would be no issue, although I would recommend that the company engage with an expert on ITAR first.

Remember, Boeing received a $6 million fine for having personnel in the same room where Russians and Ukrainians were discussing rocket technology in Russian.





Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: edkyle99 on 05/15/2016 04:01 PM
Doesn't matter, this company must obtain a TAA to even discuss rocketry with nationals of New Zealand.
"This company" is a New Zealand company, with a U.S. presence only for funding and contracts, etc., a probably for paperwork like ITAR.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: gongora on 05/15/2016 04:20 PM
As long as no Americans have any unlicensed discussions with nationals of New Zealand, there would be no issue, although I would recommend that the company engage with an expert on ITAR first.

Remember, Boeing received a $6 million fine for having personnel in the same room where Russians and Ukrainians were discussing rocket technology in Russian.

They've been working on this for years, with operations in New Zealand and U.S., they have received government contracts already, you really think they've never heard of ITAR and don't already have plans in place for dealing with it?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Danderman on 05/21/2016 03:24 AM
Doesn't matter, this company must obtain a TAA to even discuss rocketry with nationals of New Zealand.
"This company" is a New Zealand company, with a U.S. presence only for funding and contracts, etc., a probably for paperwork like ITAR.

 - Ed Kyle

Hmmm... It must have been that whole "rocketlabusa.com" thing that fooled me.  As long as all of the engineers are nationals of New Zealand, and no one from the USA is involved in technical discussions, they would be OK.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Kryten on 05/24/2016 06:23 PM
Quote
James Dean ‏@flatoday_jdean  10m10 minutes ago
Rocket Lab's Schneider: targeting 1st Electron test launch late summer, 1st commercial flight Feb. '17, cross fingers. #SpaceCongress2016
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: rocx on 05/24/2016 06:29 PM
Is that northern or southern summer? I suppose the former, because February '17 is still in the southern summer.
Looks like Electron will fly before Falcon Heavy, but after CZ-7. And more important, first of the current wave of small launchers in development. And probably before the International Astronautical Congress of 26-30 September too.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Kryten on 05/24/2016 07:38 PM
This was at a conference in the US, so will be northern summer.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: chalz on 05/24/2016 08:25 PM
Quote
James Dean ‏@flatoday_jdean  10m10 minutes ago
Rocket Lab's Schneider: targeting 1st Electron test launch late summer, 1st commercial flight Feb. '17, cross fingers. #SpaceCongress2016
They keep using the phrase '1st test launch' so I wonder how many they are planning? One test flight seems enough for other rockets. Maybe it is in case of failure they will be ready with another.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: bstrong on 05/24/2016 08:30 PM
They keep using the phrase '1st test launch' so I wonder how many they are planning? One test flight seems enough for other rockets. Maybe it is in case of failure they will be ready with another.

The most relevant recent comparison (brand new launcher developed by a startup) is probably Falcon 1, which required four. With luck, Electron will need fewer, but I would hope they are budgeting for at least four.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 05/24/2016 11:21 PM
They could offer the first few flights at a heavily discount rate. Cubesats should be reasonably resilient to LV failure compared to big GEO satellites. In most cases replacing a cubesat should only take a few months, in case of Planetlabs weeks.

I'm picking there will be a few customers willing to risk their cubesats for cheap early ride.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 05/24/2016 11:30 PM
Quote
James Dean ‏@flatoday_jdean  10m10 minutes ago
Rocket Lab's Schneider: targeting 1st Electron test launch late summer, 1st commercial flight Feb. '17, cross fingers. #SpaceCongress2016

Another tweet was this:
https://twitter.com/flatoday_jdean/status/735172696443658240
Quote
Rocket Lab's Schneider: actively looking at launch site options in Florida; working on reducing range costs. #SpaceCongress2016

Thats the issue with these launchers - range fees end up being a substantial chunk of the costs. I wonder if they have any recurring fees for launching from Mahia, apart from their own infrastructure upkeep costs ?

And another :
https://twitter.com/FLSPACErePORT/status/735173053957603328
Quote
Rocket Lab talking to other US spaceports, working w/KSC, hopes USAF can lower cost for Electron on the Eastern Range. #SpaceCongress2016
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Galactic Penguin SST on 05/24/2016 11:47 PM
Quote
James Dean ‏@flatoday_jdean  10m10 minutes ago
Rocket Lab's Schneider: targeting 1st Electron test launch late summer, 1st commercial flight Feb. '17, cross fingers. #SpaceCongress2016
Anyone betting $1 US that this (or heck even the first flight in 2016) won't happen?  ::)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 05/24/2016 11:51 PM
Quote
James Dean ‏@flatoday_jdean  10m10 minutes ago
Rocket Lab's Schneider: targeting 1st Electron test launch late summer, 1st commercial flight Feb. '17, cross fingers. #SpaceCongress2016
Anyone betting $1 US that this (or heck even the first flight in 2016) won't happen?  ::)

You want to set up a pool ? I'd put $25 on them at least taking off but probably not making orbit - or even space.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 05/25/2016 12:48 AM
Quote
James Dean ‏@flatoday_jdean  10m10 minutes ago
Rocket Lab's Schneider: targeting 1st Electron test launch late summer, 1st commercial flight Feb. '17, cross fingers. #SpaceCongress2016
Anyone betting $1 US that this (or heck even the first flight in 2016) won't happen?  ::)

You want to set up a pool ? I'd put $25 on them at least taking off but probably not making orbit - or even space.

Perhaps we need a Rocketlab Bingo then?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 05/25/2016 12:49 AM
That's not very nice.

I wish our eastward cousins the best of luck.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 05/25/2016 12:53 AM
That's not very nice.

I wish our eastward cousins the best of luck.

As do I.. believe me.  8)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: The Amazing Catstronaut on 05/25/2016 01:15 AM
I reckon 2017 they'll nail it. Probably second or third flight (give some leeway for them RUDing up their first rocket). 2016 seems a touch aggressive - here's hoping they succeed.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 05/26/2016 06:21 AM
I reckon 2017 they'll nail it. Probably second or third flight (give some leeway for them RUDing up their first rocket). 2016 seems a touch aggressive - here's hoping they succeed.
2016 for at least an attempt to launch, because they are a startup with limited runway and next funding cliff always on the horizon. Just execution matters more than success at certain stage, for gaining more runway - although stellar success is always welcome.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Alf Fass on 06/14/2016 06:33 AM
The New Zealand Government is putting into place the legislation required for space launch, including agreements with the US:

Quote
There are new rules for outer space, as New Zealand gears up for its first rocket launch with the help of the United States.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says a new regime will help secure and responsible space launches from New Zealand.

Measures include introducing the High Altitude Activities Bill to outline international obligations, put in safety guidelines and penalties.

All launches must have a license and payload permit from the launch facility which can last up to five years. The Minister may revoke or suspend these. New Zealanders must also apply for launch licenses outside of New Zealand.

A successful applicant must also pass a "fit and proper person test" which includes looking at compliance history, experience in the industry, mental health and convictions.

A new agreement with the United States has also been reached to protect their rocket and satellite technology on New Zealand soil.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/81041705/new-zealands-space-policy-government-lays-out-rocket-rules-and-united-states-pact
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 06/15/2016 06:38 AM
New Zealand gets a space agency! Their web page includes a link to Rocketlab.

http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/space/nz-space-agency/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: baldusi on 06/15/2016 12:55 PM
Argentina is developing their own, but for initial testing we are sourcing RG-1 from Russia. I understand that India has also developed their own RG-1 version.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: A_M_Swallow on 06/17/2016 03:54 AM
How about RocketLab joining the fashion of using methane?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jamesh9000 on 06/17/2016 04:22 AM
CameronD, could you perhaps give a few more details of how far along things are? I ask because I've been following this pretty closely, (I'm a Kiwi, so I'm REALLY hoping this one succeeds), and news has been rather scarce. Peter Beck said a few months ago that the launch site would be finished by May, but I haven't heard anything since, (not surprising if they're not quite on schedule, new projects almost never are), although one news report said the launch site is finished, and they're now in a "commissioning" phase, whatever that means.

If you don't know anything else, that's fine, it just seems you know a bit more than the press does right now, and I'm impatient  :)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 06/17/2016 08:45 AM
CameronD, could you perhaps give a few more details of how far along things are? I ask because I've been following this pretty closely, (I'm a Kiwi, so I'm REALLY hoping this one succeeds), and news has been rather scarce. Peter Beck said a few months ago that the launch site would be finished by May, but I haven't heard anything since, (not surprising if they're not quite on schedule, new projects almost never are), although one news report said the launch site is finished, and they're now in a "commissioning" phase, whatever that means.

If you don't know anything else, that's fine, it just seems you know a bit more than the press does right now, and I'm impatient  :)

Well.. I'm sure it's safe to say that ordinary folks on both sides of the Tasman are, like yourself, wishing them all the very best in their endeavours and hoping they succeed.

..but I've probably said too much already.  :-X
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jamesh9000 on 07/08/2016 10:26 PM
It's pretty quiet around here right now, so here's a couple of small update I could find. Normally I probably wouldn't go to the effort of posting this, but hey its something right now :)

First up, here's a newer picture of the launch site and the progress they're making. It's still a month old, so they'll be further along than this, AND its only a small part of the picture, but hey it's something:

https://www.facebook.com/MahiaBoatingFishingClub/photos/a.371577199580860.84227.310142042391043/1070362969702276/?type=3&theater (https://www.facebook.com/MahiaBoatingFishingClub/photos/a.371577199580860.84227.310142042391043/1070362969702276/?type=3&theater)

Also, if you click on the picture accompanying this article there's a high-res pic of everyone with what looks like flight hardware, some of which is new to me, maybe not to others who might've been paying more attention. Bonus is the facial expressions of the engineers who look like they're thinking "have you got your little picture now? I need to go back to work":

http://www.satellitetoday.com/publications/st/2016/07/01/rocket-lab-turns-10-plans-first-electron-launch-year/ (http://www.satellitetoday.com/publications/st/2016/07/01/rocket-lab-turns-10-plans-first-electron-launch-year/)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 07/11/2016 01:56 AM
It's pretty quiet around here right now, so here's a couple of small update I could find. Normally I probably wouldn't go to the effort of posting this, but hey its something right now :)

First up, here's a newer picture of the launch site and the progress they're making. It's still a month old, so they'll be further along than this, AND its only a small part of the picture, but hey it's something:

https://www.facebook.com/MahiaBoatingFishingClub/photos/a.371577199580860.84227.310142042391043/1070362969702276/?type=3&theater (https://www.facebook.com/MahiaBoatingFishingClub/photos/a.371577199580860.84227.310142042391043/1070362969702276/?type=3&theater)

All interesting info. It would have been nice to listen in at that meeting on June 18..  Does anyone here happen know anyone who was there?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Lar on 07/11/2016 02:28 AM
Well.. I'm sure it's safe to say that ordinary folks on both sides of the Tasman are, like yourself, wishing them all the very best in their endeavours and hoping they succeed.

Not just "on both sides of the Tasman" but world wide (well I guess technically everywhere is on one side of it or the other???)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: LtWigglesworth on 07/11/2016 05:51 AM
 Dava Newman visits RocketLab:

https://twitter.com/usembassynz/status/752329216058732544

Imgur host of the images:

http://imgur.com/a/aTZKo
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 07/11/2016 06:59 AM
Here are those images for posterity.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Mike Jones on 07/12/2016 07:35 PM
3 dedicated Electron launches for Planet Doves cubesats announced by Rocketlab today. Starting in 2017
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Arcas on 07/12/2016 07:44 PM
Here are those images for posterity.
Rocking the vertical striped pantsuit
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Kryten on 07/12/2016 07:52 PM
3 dedicated Electron launches for Planet Doves cubesats announced by Rocketlab today. Starting in 2017
Here's the release from RocketLab;
https://rocketlabusa.com/rocket-lab-and-planet-sign-launch-services-agreement/
Quote
Planet and Rocket Lab have signed a Launch Services Agreement for at least three dedicated launches on Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle.
The agreement will see Electron used to expand and replenish Planet’s existing on-orbit fleet of Dove satellites. Planet will utilize the full capacity of Electron for each of the launches, which are scheduled to begin in 2017.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Mike Jones on 07/12/2016 08:00 PM
Large manifest secured  by RL before their Maiden flight:
1 launch for NASA VCLS
3 for MoonExpress + 2 options
12 for Spire
3  for Planet
They are clearly the leading emerging microlauncher players
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/12/2016 08:53 PM
Large manifest secured  by RL before their Maiden flight:
1 launch for NASA VCLS
3 for MoonExpress + 2 options
12 for Spire
3  for Planet
They are clearly the leading emerging microlauncher players


Spire has also signed a contract for launching some of its satellites on Electron launches, although those will be manifested as secondary payloads.

 - See more at: http://spacenews.com/planet-purchases-three-launches-from-rocket-lab/#sthash.nRayd0wR.dpuf
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Galactic Penguin SST on 07/12/2016 11:15 PM
Large manifest secured  by RL before their Maiden flight:
1 launch for NASA VCLS
3 for MoonExpress + 2 options
12 for Spire
3  for Planet
They are clearly the leading emerging microlauncher players

Not to de-ride them, but the Planet Labs contract is the 1st one that I have a more secure feeling - the NASA one was given to everyone who have some sort of chance to fly, the MoonExpress one is (by its nature) quite volatile and Spire hasn't flown anything to space yet. Their list of customers was one of the things that I have big reservations (they once said that they have dozens of flights booked but declined to name them, and few has shown up in public either), and it's good to see this contract coming up.

I'm still skeptical that they can fly in 2016 though - perhaps next year will be their show time.  ;)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: gongora on 07/12/2016 11:24 PM
Spire hasn't flown anything to space yet.

Spire has launched Lemurs several times now and supposedly has more going on the oft-delayed Sherpa.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 07/12/2016 11:26 PM
Large manifest secured  by RL before their Maiden flight:
1 launch for NASA VCLS
3 for MoonExpress + 2 options
12 for Spire
3  for Planet
They are clearly the leading emerging microlauncher players

Spire has also signed a contract for launching some of its satellites on Electron launches, although those will be manifested as secondary payloads.

What worries me about all this publicity is that RL have all these customers signed up but have yet to demonstrate even a single test flight of the rocket: could they end up a satellite-payload version of XCOR?

What if the first flight is a failure? The second?  Third?? There are a zillion things that could go wrong.  Do their customers all then run off to other providers with demonstrated runs on the board??  I do remember it took SpaceX three goes to get single successful launch and, although I hope they do, I'm not convinced people will put the same (or more) faith in the guys at Rocketlab.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Galactic Penguin SST on 07/12/2016 11:34 PM
Spire hasn't flown anything to space yet.

Spire has launched Lemurs several times now and supposedly has more going on the oft-delayed Sherpa.

Whoops you are correct - I only remembered the company's previous name. That puts them at 14 cubesats launched on 3 different rides starting from 2014.

What worries me about all this publicity is that RL have all these customers signed up but have yet to demonstrate even a single test flight of the rocket: could they end up a satellite-payload version of XCOR?

What if the first flight is a failure? The second?  Third?? There are a zillion things that could go wrong.  Do their customers all then run off to other providers with demonstrated runs on the board??  I do remember it took SpaceX three goes to get single successful launch and, although I hope they do, I'm not convinced people will put the same (or more) faith in the guys at Rocketlab.



Agreed, although they probably don't have a customer like DARPA did to SpaceX at that time. Perhaps the NASA one will be the first "operational" flight?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 07/13/2016 01:54 AM
Agreed, although they probably don't have a customer like DARPA did to SpaceX at that time. Perhaps the NASA one will be the first "operational" flight?

No idea.. but I wouldn't think so.  Losing some poor school's Cube-sat is one thing, but if their maiden VCLS launch failed or (maybe worse?) the payload wound up in the wrong orbit, it'd be all over the newsfeeds on both sides of the Pacific.  They'd probly never win a launch for NASA again out of sheer embarrassment.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 07/13/2016 02:01 AM
Dava Newman visits RocketLab:

https://twitter.com/usembassynz/status/752329216058732544

Well.. it safe to say she got to see a lot more than I did!  :'(
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: NaN on 07/15/2016 03:56 AM
Agreed, although they probably don't have a customer like DARPA did to SpaceX at that time. Perhaps the NASA one will be the first "operational" flight?

No idea.. but I wouldn't think so.  Losing some poor school's Cube-sat is one thing, but if their maiden VCLS launch failed or (maybe worse?) the payload wound up in the wrong orbit, it'd be all over the newsfeeds on both sides of the Pacific.  They'd probly never win a launch for NASA again out of sheer embarrassment.

VCLS would make a fine first operational flight, as its entire purpose is to help new providers get off the ground. Losing it would be bad, of course, but hardly a fatal blow. As the SpaceNews article says:

http://spacenews.com/nasa-awards-contracts-for-dedicated-cubesat-launches/
Quote from: SpaceNews
All three companies are still developing their small satellite launch vehicles, with first launches planned no sooner than early 2016. NASA officials acknowledged at the press conference that this approach carries some risk, since there is no guarantee that the vehicles will be ready as scheduled, or at all. “We’re definitely going after a high-risk approach here,” acknowledged Mark Wiese, the flight projects office chief for NASA’s Launch Services Program.
“The cubesats represent that high risk tolerant payload, which are perfect for the demonstration of a first flight.”

All of the pre-launch customers have some higher tolerance of risk for these contracts or they would not have signed with an unproven provider.

edit: fix quotes
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 07/15/2016 02:17 PM
The historical failure rate for new LVs is very high in first few flights. It not so much if the Electron will have a failure but when. Given a failure is expect, best it is one of early test flights.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: LtWigglesworth on 07/25/2016 08:41 AM
Fairing acceptance test:

https://twitter.com/RocketLabUSA/status/755873671881773056
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 08/04/2016 05:18 AM
Here's an interesting tidbit from the Flightglobal reporting of Moon Express's approval for an attempted moon landing:

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/us-clears-first-private-company-to-make-moon-landing-428182/ (https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/us-clears-first-private-company-to-make-moon-landing-428182/)

Quote
Moon Express has signed contracts with Rocket Lab to supply both the Electron rockets to perform the launch and the MX-1E micro-lander to descend onto Mars.

Did I read that right?  Rocketlab are building mars landing vehicles also?!?  :o
 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: sdsds on 08/04/2016 06:10 AM
Did I read that right?  Rocketlab are building mars landing vehicles also?!?  :o

Whatever Flightglobal says, MX-1E is approved by the FAA for landing on the Moon, not on Mars.

http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/organizations/moon-express/moon-express-gains-regulatory-approval-moon-shot/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/04/2016 06:14 AM
It will be a mistake by journalist. Electron MX-1E combination is marginal for lunar lander let alone mars.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 08/06/2016 11:38 AM
What worries me about all this publicity is that RL have all these customers signed up but have yet to demonstrate even a single test flight of the rocket: could they end up a satellite-payload version of XCOR?

What if the first flight is a failure? The second?  Third?? There are a zillion things that could go wrong.  Do their customers all then run off to other providers with demonstrated runs on the board??  I do remember it took SpaceX three goes to get single successful launch and, although I hope they do, I'm not convinced people will put the same (or more) faith in the guys at Rocketlab.

If you look at what happened to Super Strypi and Falcon 1, a first failure with payload, while expected, leads to a dummy payload until the vehicle proves itself. Rocket Lab are the best of the bunch IMHO, and far ahead, but progress always slows down when you get to the actual launches.

Firstly, getting the first one off the ground ALWAYS takes longer. Right now I think they will be lucky to get even a sub-orb away before early 2017, based on progress of the launch site and susbsystems. We are in August already and they are showing fairing sep tests and launch site in a semi-finished state - while still saying "end of the year". It slips and slips, but this is normal.

Secondly there is almost certainly going to be a failure during early launches for one reason or another. That will lead to literally months if not years of delays while they analyze what went wrong and re-engineer and test the problem. This is what kills cashflow, as customers and investor dry up at this point, so making sure you have a full bank account prior to launch 1 is crucial. This consideration also is a factor in management decision to go/no go - it is a calculated risk based on readiness and cash.

They clearly want to launch in the antipodean Summer time - circa Dec-March, 3-4-5 months from now - but honestly I doubt they will make that, because all the usual human stuff like school summer holidays in December/Jan in Aus/NZ and just because they are not close enough to ready I think.

And that then pushes them out into New Zealand autumn and winter; the issue then is weather, as Mahia gets 70+ days a year with wind gusts above 63 kph, which is a Force 8 gale, most of them in autumn, spring and winter ie., March-November  (https://www.niwa.co.nz/static/Hawkes%20Bay%20WEB.pdf pp15-17).

Even if you say your rocket handles significant loads, I think we can all agree that F8 gales - probably plus rain/sleet/snow, as the minimum monthly temps in winter are sub-zero degrees C - are not good launch conditions.

So if you then struggle to find a good launch window, you are hanging almost another year until Southern spring/summer 2017...

Anyway, I think again they are the most advanced and complete of the pack, but it's a long way from looking like a rocket to flying like one. I would put my money on late 2017 launch.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 08/06/2016 12:07 PM
Doesn't matter, this company must obtain a TAA to even discuss rocketry with nationals of New Zealand.
"This company" is a New Zealand company, with a U.S. presence only for funding and contracts, etc., a probably for paperwork like ITAR.

 - Ed Kyle

Actually the NZ company is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the US one. You can check this at NZ Companies Office:-

https://www.business.govt.nz/companies/app/ui/pages/companies/1835428?
backurl=%2Fcompanies%2Fapp%2Fui%2Fpages%2Fcompanies%2Fsearch%
3Fmode%3Dstandard%26type%3Dentities%26q%3Drocket%2520lab

This makes the beneficial owner a US-resident corporation, and therefore it is subject to US laws including ITAR, MTCR etc.

And as a result the NZ government has drafted a National Interests Analysis and subsequently a Technology Safeguard Agreement with the US government on technology exchange specifically for Rocket Lab:-

NIA:
https://www.parliament.nz/resource/en-NZ/00DBSCH_ITR_69357_1/a547a574617eef61024ddd01b00c797a1f01229a

TSA:
http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/space/pdf-library/A%20Regulatory%20Regime%20to%20Enable%20Space%20
Launches%20from%20New%20Zealand%20-December%202015-%20-
%20Cabinet%20paper.pdf

So in practise, this is a US corporation operating on NZ soil through a subsidiary that also has to adhere to US laws, and some special conditions about access to launch vehicles for non-US citizens.

There is so much info on Rocket Lab out there in government filings and ministerial statements, I am amazed people don't find it. Even shareholder percentages are on the internet if you look carefully enough.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: gongora on 08/06/2016 10:23 PM
Tweet from Jeff Foust (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/762045631728717824)
Quote
Robin Sampson, Clyde Space: first Outernet cubesats to launch in December. Will broadcast in UHF with UK spectrum allocation. #smallsat

Tweet from Jeff Foust (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/762046747589824513)
Quote
Sampson: those initial Outernet cubesats will launch on the 2nd and 3rd Rocket Lab Electron missions late this year. #smallsat
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/07/2016 02:45 PM
What worries me about all this publicity is that RL have all these customers signed up but have yet to demonstrate even a single test flight of the rocket: could they end up a satellite-payload version of XCOR?

What if the first flight is a failure? The second?  Third?? There are a zillion things that could go wrong.  Do their customers all then run off to other providers with demonstrated runs on the board??  I do remember it took SpaceX three goes to get single successful launch and, although I hope they do, I'm not convinced people will put the same (or more) faith in the guys at Rocketlab.

If you look at what happened to Super Strypi and Falcon 1, a first failure with payload, while expected, leads to a dummy payload until the vehicle proves itself. Rocket Lab are the best of the bunch IMHO, and far ahead, but progress always slows down when you get to the actual launches.

Firstly, getting the first one off the ground ALWAYS takes longer. Right now I think they will be lucky to get even a sub-orb away before early 2017, based on progress of the launch site and susbsystems. We are in August already and they are showing fairing sep tests and launch site in a semi-finished state - while still saying "end of the year". It slips and slips, but this is normal.

Secondly there is almost certainly going to be a failure during early launches for one reason or another. That will lead to literally months if not years of delays while they analyze what went wrong and re-engineer and test the problem. This is what kills cashflow, as customers and investor dry up at this point, so making sure you have a full bank account prior to launch 1 is crucial. This consideration also is a factor in management decision to go/no go - it is a calculated risk based on readiness and cash.

They clearly want to launch in the antipodean Summer time - circa Dec-March, 3-4-5 months from now - but honestly I doubt they will make that, because all the usual human stuff like school summer holidays in December/Jan in Aus/NZ and just because they are not close enough to ready I think.

And that then pushes them out into New Zealand autumn and winter; the issue then is weather, as Mahia gets 70+ days a year with wind gusts above 63 kph, which is a Force 8 gale, most of them in autumn, spring and winter ie., March-November  (https://www.niwa.co.nz/static/Hawkes%20Bay%20WEB.pdf pp15-17).

Even if you say your rocket handles significant loads, I think we can all agree that F8 gales - probably plus rain/sleet/snow, as the minimum monthly temps in winter are sub-zero degrees C - are not good launch conditions.

So if you then struggle to find a good launch window, you are hanging almost another year until Southern spring/summer 2017...

Anyway, I think again they are the most advanced and complete of the pack, but it's a long way from looking like a rocket to flying like one. I would put my money on late 2017 launch.
Most of those wind gusts will be for mid afternoon and later. Typically it is calmer in morning with wind building during day.
The launch site would be lucky to see snow once a decade and even then it wouldn't settle.

Not sure about Mahia but Napier side of Hawkes Bay has lot of calm clear days in winter.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 08/07/2016 03:29 PM
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/762306398067699712

June 2017....
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 08/08/2016 06:15 AM
That is the ELaNa launch date, not the launch date of the first Electron.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 08/08/2016 06:37 AM
That is the ELaNa launch date, not the launch date of the first Electron.

Perhaps his point was that the proposed launch was in winter?


 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 08/08/2016 11:12 AM

Perhaps his point was that the proposed launch was in winter?

Yes it was this, although I personally think they will be lucky to get orbital before then in any case. And I say that without any ill-will whatsoever - it's just the way things go during this phase of operations, millions of tiny details. As far as I can see they don't yet have even an experimental launch licence, for example.

w.r.t weather, I remember Peter Beck saying they had specified Electron to withstand the local wind/weather loads on the pad, but I think wintery conditions makes it more marginal and slightly harder to plan a launch campaign in the usual manner. Another comment above pointed out that the weather changes over the day and very windy days are mixed with clear days - I accept this of course. The thing is that planning around the variable weather of the winter becomes more complex, and almost certainly creates delays in individual launch campaigns that then roll through the entire cadence.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: LtWigglesworth on 08/20/2016 02:54 AM
Launch Platform has been installed at Mahia.

https://twitter.com/RocketLabUSA/status/766735820224995328
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: baldusi on 08/20/2016 07:53 PM
Which winter? They are launching from the Southern Hemisphere.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 08/21/2016 11:20 PM
Which winter? They are launching from the Southern Hemisphere.

Southern winter.  Next June.

AFAICT, they are still on track for a test launch of something late this year.  What that "something" will be though is anyone's guess..
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: russianhalo117 on 08/23/2016 10:15 PM
In addition to discussions with MARS and Space Florida, the following quote from Alaska Aerospace Corporation CEO:
Quote
Craig Campbell, AAC President and CEO, stated "With completion of this project, PSCA is ready to welcome new launches supporting both government and private sector companies."  Over the past few months, AAC has signed a multi-year contract with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) for multiple launches from the PSCA through 2021.  AAC is also working with two private companies, Rocket Lab USA and Vector Space Systems, for commercial launches from PSCA as early as 2017.

LINK: http://akaerospace.com/news/pacific-spaceport-complex-alaska-rededication-and-return-launch-event
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/24/2016 12:42 AM
Rocket lab will need Alaska pad for DOD missions as I doubt DOD would be allow their payloads launched from NZ.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Zed_Noir on 08/24/2016 08:04 AM
Rocket lab will need Alaska pad for DOD missions as I doubt DOD would be allow their payloads launched from NZ.
Maybe easier & cheaper to staged Electron polar launches from Launch Complex 576 at VAFB.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: russianhalo117 on 08/24/2016 07:42 PM
Rocket lab will need Alaska pad for DOD missions as I doubt DOD would be allow their payloads launched from NZ.
Maybe easier & cheaper to staged Electron polar launches from Launch Complex 576 at VAFB.
US PSCA launches will be retrograde orbits and SSO CCAFS launches will be fore US LEO and WFF is considered for high energy orbits. Discussions are ongoing with Space Florida and MARS
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Prober on 08/25/2016 01:28 PM



New Update article, video etc.


http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=33141.msg1560147#msg1560147
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: orulz on 08/25/2016 07:58 PM
Even if they don't make December for their first launch, presumably there are other somewhat exciting milestones that they need to go through before launch that they will be able to do once they have the pad set up - such as static test fires of the fully integrated first stage? Rocket Lab is one of the more exciting things going on in spaceflight right now.

Even if their first rocket fails, if they make it past stage separation and the second stage ignites successfully, I think their future will be safe, for now. Especially if they make it to orbit, even the wrong orbit, and even if something goes wrong while deploying the payload, I think their customers will actually have increased confidence - it's proof that the concepts involved are all valid and that they're close to making it work- just need to polish the design.

There are too many things that can go wrong for the first few launches to all go smoothly - even something that might seem trivial like fairing separation can cause snags.

What I hope we do not see, especially on the first flight, is a failure of the first stage whether by RUD or loss of guidance or whatever. I do however hope they are capitalized to recover from such a possibility.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: yg1968 on 08/31/2016 03:06 AM
An update:

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/08/28/rocket-lab-nears-completion-of-worlds-first-private-orbital-launch-site-in-new-zealand.html
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: high road on 08/31/2016 11:43 AM
Do they have downlink and/or tracking this time?  ::)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Sam Ho on 09/03/2016 12:15 PM
Article saying they were not affected by the earthquake and everything is still on track.

http://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-launch-site-not-damaged-in-new-zealand-earthquake/
Title: More information on the launcher and possible upgrades
Post by: NZ1 on 09/04/2016 12:32 AM
This quote is interesting. It possibly suggests that batteries will be ejected on the way up, to progressively save weight.

"Lithium batteries will be jettisoned, possibly into NZ water"

They are looking at resuseability.
"We are continuing to consider ways of recovering and reusing the vehicle to further reduce any potential environmental impacts."

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/technology/news/article.cfm?c_id=5&objectid=11702310
Title: Re: More information on the launcher and possible upgrades
Post by: CameronD on 09/05/2016 12:08 AM
This quote is interesting. It possibly suggests that batteries will be ejected on the way up, to progressively save weight.

"Lithium batteries will be jettisoned, possibly into NZ water"

They are looking at resuseability.
"We are continuing to consider ways of recovering and reusing the vehicle to further reduce any potential environmental impacts."

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/technology/news/article.cfm?c_id=5&objectid=11702310

"tis interesting indeed and sounds like the NZ Gov'ment could get themselves into much hot water if they "permitted" uncontrolled dumping.  Memories of the 'Rena' disaster are still fresh...

My take on their re-usability effort is a simple parachute recovery into the ocean for collection on a nice day by a borrowed fishing trawler... nothing terribly extraordinary and even then only after they get a few successes under their belts.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Davidthefat on 09/05/2016 08:06 PM
This quote is interesting. It possibly suggests that batteries will be ejected on the way up, to progressively save weight.

"Lithium batteries will be jettisoned, possibly into NZ water"

They are looking at resuseability.
"We are continuing to consider ways of recovering and reusing the vehicle to further reduce any potential environmental impacts."

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/technology/news/article.cfm?c_id=5&objectid=11702310

I see it as the lithium battery raised concerns specifically and they were simply addressing it in their statement. I see no reason why the batteries will be jettisoned independently from the stage. The whole stage will be discarded, and lithium batteries are among the materials being jettisoned.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 09/06/2016 06:23 AM
I see no reason why the batteries will be jettisoned independently from the stage. The whole stage will be discarded, and lithium batteries are among the materials being jettisoned.

As the batteries are used up, they are discarded during flight. For example, the battery pack could be split into four separate batteries during a two minute flight. After 30 seconds the first battery is empty and released, at one minute the second battery is empty and released and at 90 seconds the third battery is released. This means that less unnecessary mass is carried further into flight, increasing vehicle performance.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 09/06/2016 07:23 AM
I see no reason why the batteries will be jettisoned independently from the stage. The whole stage will be discarded, and lithium batteries are among the materials being jettisoned.

As the batteries are used up, they are discarded during flight. For example, the battery pack could be split into four separate batteries during a two minute flight. After 30 seconds the first battery is empty and released, at one minute the second battery is empty and released and at 90 seconds the third battery is released. This means that less unnecessary mass is carried further into flight, increasing vehicle performance.

Is that what they said they're doing, or just an explanation for why it might be useful?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 09/06/2016 02:56 PM
I see no reason why the batteries will be jettisoned independently from the stage. The whole stage will be discarded, and lithium batteries are among the materials being jettisoned.

As the batteries are used up, they are discarded during flight. For example, the battery pack could be split into four separate batteries during a two minute flight. After 30 seconds the first battery is empty and released, at one minute the second battery is empty and released and at 90 seconds the third battery is released. This means that less unnecessary mass is carried further into flight, increasing vehicle performance.
This staged jettisoning system would be even more effective for 2nd stage when it will burn for longer.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 09/06/2016 03:08 PM
As the batteries are used up, they are discarded during flight. For example, the battery pack could be split into four separate batteries during a two minute flight. ..
Except for in applications like this, you likely actually do need the full battery to deliver the required power to run the pump. Specific power matters just as well as specific energy. You cant drop half the pack and still pull the full amps.
I'm pretty sure the mention in the article talks about batteries ending up in the ocean together with the expended stage, not being jettisoned, as it talks about kerosene and batteries in the same sentence.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 09/07/2016 12:17 PM
Is that what they said they're doing, or just an explanation for why it might be useful?

Explanation of why it would be useful.

Except for in applications like this, you likely actually do need the full battery to deliver the required power to run the pump. Specific power matters just as well as specific energy. You cant drop half the pack and still pull the full amps.

Yes you're right. Let the total energy be E = P*T where P is power in Watts and T is time in seconds.

For a battery pack the power P = V*I where V is the total voltage and I is the total current in Amps.

Each battery has energy Eb = 3600*Vb*Ab where Vb is the battery voltage and Ab is the battery Amp hour rating (1 hour is 3600 seconds).

The maximum battery current Ib = C*Ab where C is the current rating multiplier.

We have E = T*V*I = T*Ns*Vb*Np*C*Ab where Ns is the number of batteries in series in each string and Np the number of parallel strings of batteries. Total number of batteries is

E/Eb = T*Ns*Vb*Np*C*Ab/(3600*Vb*Ab) = Ns*Np*T*C/3600

However, as we know the total number of batteries is Ns*Np, this means the optimal battery configuration requires T*C = 3600 (this is the equation to remember!).

For a first stage flight of 180 seconds (3 minutes), that would require a C rating of 20. Batteries of this C rating are available. See

http://www.all-battery.com/highcrateli-polymer.aspx

If we have two batteries operating at 90 seconds each, then the required C rating of each battery pack needs to double to 40. I couldn't find any batteries with that high a C rating. Maximum seems to be C = 25.

http://www.all-battery.com/25c2500mah222v6sli-polylipobatterypack.aspx
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Comga on 09/07/2016 01:34 PM
"tis interesting indeed and sounds like the NZ Gov'ment could get themselves into much hot water if they "permitted" uncontrolled dumping.  Memories of the 'Rena' disaster are still fresh...

I know that you know what the "Rena disaster" is, but a link (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rena_oil_spill) would help the rest of us.

US PSCA launches will be retrograde orbits and SSO CCAFS launches will be fore US LEO and WFF is considered for high energy orbits. Discussions are ongoing with Space Florida and MARS

Wow.  Almost a quarter of the "words" in that sentence are acronyms.  Impressive even for NSF.

And the stuff about sequentially discarding batteries is neat theory, but is not part of Rocketlabs's plan, is it?

Cheers!
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: acsawdey on 09/07/2016 03:05 PM
For a first stage flight of 180 seconds (3 minutes), that would require a C rating of 20. Batteries of this C rating are available. See

http://www.all-battery.com/highcrateli-polymer.aspx

If we have two batteries operating at 90 seconds each, then the required C rating of each battery pack needs to double to 40. I couldn't find any batteries with that high a C rating. Maximum seems to be C = 25.

http://www.all-battery.com/25c2500mah222v6sli-polylipobatterypack.aspx

Yep, this is exactly what I found when trying to make pack sizing calculations, 25C is the highest rated discharge rate you see advertised, and 20C is what you need for the first stage. It seems like the second stage is the place where ejecting batteries might make sense, it's a much longer burn of only a single engine.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37308.msg1359831#msg1359831 (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37308.msg1359831#msg1359831)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 09/07/2016 09:03 PM
If we have two batteries operating at 90 seconds each, then the required C rating of each battery pack needs to double to 40. I couldn't find any batteries with that high a C rating. Maximum seems to be C = 25.
You can actually find cell designs that are able to withstand higher C ratings quite well, for short periods as you are dealing with temperature rise and cooling issues too. It does shorten the cycle life, but that would be irrelevant for this app anyway. But packs are normally engineered for both capacity and power rating together, designing a pack that could split like this sounds like unnecessary level of complexity and risk.

It seems like the second stage is the place where ejecting batteries might make sense, it's a much longer burn of only a single engine.
Long burn at much lower power being the key. But still, you'd have ejection mechanisms that would add weight, potential GN&C stability issues, further pack engineering constraints for making it modular ..
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 09/08/2016 11:08 AM
And the stuff about sequentially discarding batteries is neat theory, but is not part of Rocketlabs's plan, is it?

It's interesting to read this here as I heard the same story - that they will jettison batteries en route, and not just as part of the S1 sep - privately about two months ago. I can't confirm it, it's just something I heard at a conference. It does make sense from a delta-V point of view, but it's more complexity.

The whole electric turbopump angle is interesting but only works for engines of this scale. They have locked themselves into a certain technical approach / solution that has engineering advantages but performance tradeoffs in terms of inert mass and long term scalabilty of the solution. The energy density is the main issue.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 09/08/2016 12:47 PM
Is that what they said they're doing, or just an explanation for why it might be useful?

Explanation of why it would be useful.

Except for in applications like this, you likely actually do need the full battery to deliver the required power to run the pump. Specific power matters just as well as specific energy. You cant drop half the pack and still pull the full amps.

Yes you're right. Let the total energy be E = P*T where P is power in Watts and T is time in seconds.

For a battery pack the power P = V*I where V is the total voltage and I is the total current in Amps.

Each battery has energy Eb = 3600*Vb*Ab where Vb is the battery voltage and Ab is the battery Amp hour rating (1 hour is 3600 seconds).

The maximum battery current Ib = C*Ab where C is the current rating multiplier.

We have E = T*V*I = T*Ns*Vb*Np*C*Ab where Ns is the number of batteries in series in each string and Np the number of parallel strings of batteries. Total number of batteries is

E/Eb = T*Ns*Vb*Np*C*Ab/(3600*Vb*Ab) = Ns*Np*T*C/3600

However, as we know the total number of batteries is Ns*Np, this means the optimal battery configuration requires T*C = 3600 (this is the equation to remember!).

For a first stage flight of 180 seconds (3 minutes), that would require a C rating of 20. Batteries of this C rating are available. See

http://www.all-battery.com/highcrateli-polymer.aspx

If we have two batteries operating at 90 seconds each, then the required C rating of each battery pack needs to double to 40. I couldn't find any batteries with that high a C rating. Maximum seems to be C = 25.

http://www.all-battery.com/25c2500mah222v6sli-polylipobatterypack.aspx

I am quoting all because I liked your post.

I think what this means is that they are energy density limited by this solution. Unless battery tech improves to increase the density from the same number (ie., mass) of batteries, they can't energize larger pumps to feed fuel to much larger engines without a quite serious mass penalty. This probably means they need to move to old school turbopumps if the vehicle is to evolve.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: acsawdey on 09/08/2016 03:10 PM
I think what this means is that they are energy density limited by this solution. Unless battery tech improves to increase the density from the same number (ie., mass) of batteries, they can't energize larger pumps to feed fuel to much larger engines without a quite serious mass penalty. This probably means they need to move to old school turbopumps if the vehicle is to evolve.

That's been the consistent opinion -- electric pumps only work out for small engines because it's difficult and expensive to design really small gas turbines for conventional turbopumps. It might not be any more difficult or expensive than designing a large turbine, but if the cost doesn't scale down with engine size it becomes a problem. Even in this application the batteries are on the edge of being worth it -- weight of the PT6A turboshaft engine is given as 122kg and there is a version of that which has output over 1MW. Of course you need a generator too. If it only needs to run 3 minutes, SFC is given as 0.408 kg/kW*hr which amounts to about 20kg of fuel. It would need to be made to work on RP-1+GOX. Of course it's likely batteries are at least one order of magnitude cheaper than this, possibly two (comparing using a PT6+generator vs a big pile of batteries).
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 09/08/2016 04:40 PM
Of course it's likely batteries are at least one order of magnitude cheaper than this, possibly two (comparing using a PT6+generator vs a big pile of batteries).
Its not just that a cost of buying or manufacturing a well engineered battery pack is much lower, but operational cost of building and testing rockets with electric pumps will likely work out much lower.
And suppliers, engineering services and available talent for power electronics are somewhat more widely available than turbo-machinery, so ongoing iterations and improvements can likely be done at lower cost.  For a startup, this can make all the difference in actually closing their business case. Once on the path of scaling up the company the equation might change.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 09/08/2016 04:55 PM
For some of smaller LV  <$50kg that are using pressure fed engines, electric pumps make logic next step. Even more so if there is an off the shelf electric motor/battery combination available.

I'd be surprised if Rocket labs, suppliers weren't already pushing there wares with other LV startups.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jongoff on 09/09/2016 04:04 AM
For some of smaller LV  <50kg that are using pressure fed engines, electric pumps make logic next step. Even more so if there is an off the shelf electric motor/battery combination available.

I'd be surprised if Rocket labs, suppliers weren't already pushing there wares with other LV startups.

RocketLabs aren't the only ones doing electro-pumped rockets. Ventions has been working on them since before I left Masten to start Altius in 2010. It's a generally good idea, but would really be augmented if someone could figure out a lightweight, efficient way of tapping a tiny bit of jet power in an MHD generator. I saw some good ideas on how to potentially make that work, but not running a rocket company, I've never had a chance to try them.

~Jon
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 09/09/2016 04:37 AM
For some of smaller LV  <50kg that are using pressure fed engines, electric pumps make logic next step. Even more so if there is an off the shelf electric motor/battery combination available.

I'd be surprised if Rocket labs, suppliers weren't already pushing there wares with other LV startups.

RocketLabs aren't the only ones doing electro-pumped rockets. Ventions has been working on them since before I left Masten to start Altius in 2010. It's a generally good idea, but would really be augmented if someone could figure out a lightweight, efficient way of tapping a tiny bit of jet power in an MHD generator. I saw some good ideas on how to potentially make that work, but not running a rocket company, I've never had a chance to try them.

~Jon

Uh .. i thought that this would be completely way out there, but because there are hypersonics weap^H^H^H flight research programs of course someone has tried something like this:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.5370/JICEE.2014.4.3.192
"Comparison of Generator Performance of Small-Scale MHD Generators with Different Electrode Dispositions and Load Connection Systems"
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jongoff on 09/09/2016 06:14 AM
For some of smaller LV  <50kg that are using pressure fed engines, electric pumps make logic next step. Even more so if there is an off the shelf electric motor/battery combination available.

I'd be surprised if Rocket labs, suppliers weren't already pushing there wares with other LV startups.

RocketLabs aren't the only ones doing electro-pumped rockets. Ventions has been working on them since before I left Masten to start Altius in 2010. It's a generally good idea, but would really be augmented if someone could figure out a lightweight, efficient way of tapping a tiny bit of jet power in an MHD generator. I saw some good ideas on how to potentially make that work, but not running a rocket company, I've never had a chance to try them.

~Jon

Uh .. i thought that this would be completely way out there, but because there are hypersonics weap^H^H^H flight research programs of course someone has tried something like this:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.5370/JICEE.2014.4.3.192
"Comparison of Generator Performance of Small-Scale MHD Generators with Different Electrode Dispositions and Load Connection Systems"

The work I was looking at was some old Soviet research I stumbled on a few years ago. Very clever, but when the USSR collapsed, that line of research more or less ground to a halt and disbanded. Very different than any of the concepts from that paper. Potentially a lot more relevant for MHD power extraction in a rocket nozzle, the challenge is just keeping the jet conductivity high enough to extract a useful amount of power. You'd only need 0.25-0.5% of the jet power to get enough power to run staged-combustion equivalent chamber pressures....

but this is only tangentially related to RocketLabs, which while using electric pump-fed rockets, didn't sound like they were looking for anything fancier. They just want to get their rocket into revenue service.

~Jon
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 09/09/2016 07:58 AM
......
but this is only tangentially related to RocketLabs, which while using electric pump-fed rockets, didn't sound like they were looking for anything fancier. They just want to get their rocket into revenue service.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?  First they have to get it off the pad in one piece.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 09/09/2016 09:26 PM
If we have two batteries operating at 90 seconds each, then the required C rating of each battery pack needs to double to 40. I couldn't find any batteries with that high a C rating. Maximum seems to be C = 25.
Just to show that this exists : one source (https://www.amainhobbies.com/protek-rc-1s-100c-hard-case-lipo-battery-pack-4mm-3.7v-7400mah-ptk-5105-16/p476515) . second source (http://www.atomikrc.com/collections/venom-lipo-batteries/products/venom-100c-2s-7200mah-7-4v-lipo-battery-hard-case-roar-approved-with-uni-plug). A123 LiFePO cells were kind of the first to market with insane discharge rates, but others have followed, and pack construction and engineering has kind of evolved slowly too.

EDIT: and of course, there are people out there that review and test these things for living. A shootout between some high powered battery packs :
http://www.bigsquidrc.com/lipo-battery-shootout-4-voltage-under-load/
They are of course more inefficent and lose capacity under heavy load, but demonstrably you can pull pretty insane amps from them for short time.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: high road on 09/09/2016 10:33 PM
......
but this is only tangentially related to RocketLabs, which while using electric pump-fed rockets, didn't sound like they were looking for anything fancier. They just want to get their rocket into revenue service.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?  First they have to get it off the pad in one piece.

And then track it so they can prove it reached space ;-)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 09/10/2016 11:05 PM
And now, for something completely different

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/84057531/Airways-hopes-Rocket-Lab-launch-will-be-first-of-many
Quote
State-owned Airways and New Zealand space company Rocket Lab and have signed a deal to ensure regular rocket launches from the country can be safe.

The agreement would see Airways provide air traffic services for Rocket Lab's test and commercial rocket launches from the world's first private orbital launch site on Mahia Peninsula, on the East Coast south of Gisborne

Airways chief operating officer Pauline Lamb said the agreement provided Rocket Lab with another piece to its rocket puzzle.

The two organisations had worked together for 18 months to develop a "special use airspace" which minimised impact on others, but still allowed Rocket Labs what it wanted to do.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 09/16/2016 06:37 PM
Whatever is being sold, I'd buy this just because of accent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwBLE0Nbnao
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 09/16/2016 08:55 PM
I found a slide deck via Google with some very recent shots / details that I don't think have been made public before:-

http://usgif.org/system/uploads/4606/original/ROCKET_LAB_INTRO_USGIF.pdf

e.g.

- 120 employees now, 25% PhD
- S1 has a separate power pack at 1M watts
- Apogee kick motor
- 5 sites incl tracking station
- photos of factory and production line

EDIT: Some interesting details in those images, I don't think they realized they were showing the failed engine store...

(http://i.imgur.com/pv2eScC.jpg)

Also the engine serial number are interesting as I think they are by year e.g. 1513 = 2015 #13 and 1668 = 2016 #68. So - if that is correct, and it's not just the sequence # of the next part off the printer - by mid-April this year they had produced ~68 3D printed engine chambers, roughly 20 a month. I know they work with Arcam, so if they have 2-3 Arcam Q20 machines that sounds about right, each chamber will be a 3 day print approximately. Also makes sense since they need 10 per vehicle plus numerous test/demo articles.

Also is that a battery module is shown as a separate unit? Or is it an interstage?

(http://i.imgur.com/ywW8agj.jpg)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Kryten on 09/17/2016 03:12 PM
RocketLab have signed a contract (http://www.mbie.govt.nz/about/whats-happening/news/2016/govt-signs-contract-authorising-rocket-lab-launches) with the NZ government to authorise the initial test launches;
Quote
Rocket Lab, a US-domiciled company founded by New Zealander Peter Beck, intends to start its launch operations from the Mahia Peninsula later this year. These operations will include the first commercial space launches from New Zealand.

The contract with Rocket Lab is an important milestone in the development of a New Zealand-based space industry.

It is an interim measure to allow Rocket Lab to commence launching rockets before the Bill establishing a regulatory regime comes into force.

The Outer Space and High Altitude Activities Bill is expected to be introduced into The House on 22 September and the Government will be seeking to have it passed into law by mid-2017. The Bill facilitates the development of a space industry and its safe and secure operation that meets our international obligations, including the Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA), recently signed with the United States.

The TSA is a bilateral treaty between the New Zealand and United States Governments to enable the use and secure management of US rocket and satellite technology in New Zealand. It allows commercial entities, including Rocket Lab, to import launch technology and satellites from the US. In terms of its broader international obligations, New Zealand is committed to the peaceful and responsible use of space.

The contract provides the mechanism by which to authorise Rocket Lab’s space activities to be conducted from New Zealand; to manage Government’s liability under the United Nations Liability Convention, and to implement New Zealand's obligations under the TSA, enabling it to enter into force.

The contract is consistent with the draft Bill. Once the Bill becomes law, Rocket Lab will transition to the new regime and the Government can choose to terminate the contract.

Before launching, Rocket Lab needs to obtain a license from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) so it can conduct its space launch activities in New Zealand.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Prober on 09/17/2016 03:36 PM
this is interesting, maybe Jim -others can chime in on this...


Can be encapsulated by the customer, is this new?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 09/17/2016 03:51 PM
Can be encapsulated by the customer, is this new?

No, not new, but it shows that military/intelligence applications are in the busines plan.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 09/17/2016 04:06 PM
Before launching, Rocket Lab needs to obtain a license from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) so it can conduct its space launch activities in New Zealand.

I said a this a few weeks ago - they are still some way away from launch if they do not have a launch licence yet, and there is nothing on the active list:-

https://www.faa.gov/data_research/commercial_space_data/licenses/

Note that the launch site operation itself will need a licence as well, so that is two processes. I doubt they could get a license until it was fully equipped.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: edkyle99 on 09/17/2016 05:58 PM
Before launching, Rocket Lab needs to obtain a license from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) so it can conduct its space launch activities in New Zealand.

I said a this a few weeks ago - they are still some way away from launch if they do not have a launch licence yet, and there is nothing on the active list:-

https://www.faa.gov/data_research/commercial_space_data/licenses/

Note that the launch site operation itself will need a licence as well, so that is two processes. I doubt they could get a license until it was fully equipped.

Why would they need an FAA license to launch from New Zealand?

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 09/17/2016 06:34 PM
Quote
Why would they need an FAA license to launch from New Zealand?

Rocket Lab are now a US company, and the range is actually a US range operating on NZ soil under US regulations as part of the TSA (Technology Safeguards Agreement) signed by the NZ government.

Because they are now a US company, the USA has control of the range, operations, launcher and payload regulation and licencing, as well as ITAR/EAR/MTCR jurisdiction on US parts/tech/know-how (it had that in any case as ITAR follows the parts). 

Here's some detail on the TSA between NZ and USA:-

https://www.parliament.nz/resource/en-NZ/00DBSCH_ITR_69357_1/a547a574617eef61024ddd01b00c797a1f01229a

And the actual agreement:

http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/space/pdf-library/technology-safeguards-agreement-US.pdf

The purpose of this Agreement is to preclude unauthorized access to or transfer of technologies associated with the launching from New Zealand of:

a. U.S. Launch Vehicles; 
b. U.S. Spacecraft by means of U.S. Launch Vehicles;
c. Foreign Spacecraft by means of U.S. Launch Vehicles; and
d. N.Z. Spacecraft by means of U.S. Launch Vehicles.


There are some tough clauses on access control in there:

The Government of New Zealand shall permit N.Z. Representatives to participate in unloading vehicles transporting U.S. Launch Vehicles, U.S. Spacecraft, Related Equipment or Technical Data, and delivering sealed containers to the segregated areas referred to in Article IV, paragraph 3 and to the U.S. Launch Vehicle and U.S. Spacecraft preparation areas only if they are under the supervision of U.S. Participants. The Government of New Zealand shall not permit N.Z. Representatives access to the segregated areas referred to in Article IV, paragraph 3 or to the U.S. Launch Vehicle or U.S. Spacecraft preparation areas for any purpose while U.S. Launch Vehicles, U.S. Spacecraft, or any Related Equipment is being assembled, installed, tested, prepared and/or integrated unless they are escorted at all times by U.S. Participants or are specially authorized by the Government of the United States of America

This basically means even Peter Beck can't see his vehicles unsupervised unless he naturalizes or gets "special authorization".

Electron is a US launch vehicle, even if assembled in NZ; in the slide deck it says the HQ is in USA. Big chunks are made in the USA and major ITAR-controlled components probably come from there too. Beck had little choice but to become a US corporation to get the Silicon Valley VC money and the key components, like LOX-tolerant CFRP which comes from TenCate, a US corporation, or a FOG.

By the way I have zero connection to RL, you can find all this and much more on the internet.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Prober on 09/17/2016 07:04 PM
delete this if its old....


A Career at Rocket Lab


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XZ1SpEEZ0c
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: edkyle99 on 09/17/2016 11:53 PM
The purpose of this Agreement is to preclude unauthorized access to or transfer of technologies associated with the launching from New Zealand of:

a. U.S. Launch Vehicles; 
b. U.S. Spacecraft by means of U.S. Launch Vehicles;
c. Foreign Spacecraft by means of U.S. Launch Vehicles; and
d. N.Z. Spacecraft by means of U.S. Launch Vehicles. [/i]
It isn't a U.S. launch vehicle.  It is designed in New Zealand, developed in New Zealand, tested in New Zealand, built in New Zealand, and will be launched in New Zealand by New Zealand citizens.  I've never read about the "big chunks" of U.S. hardware that you mentioned.  The company's U.S. presence (an office in an office park) is, in my view, only due to the source of some venture capital. 

Perhaps all of those U.S. regulations apply, but I can't for the life of me see why.  It would be like the FAA regulating all Proton launches in Kazakhstan because International Launch Services (a Russian-owned company) has an office in Virginia.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 09/18/2016 12:51 AM
The purpose of this Agreement is to preclude unauthorized access to or transfer of technologies associated with the launching from New Zealand of:

a. U.S. Launch Vehicles; 
b. U.S. Spacecraft by means of U.S. Launch Vehicles;
c. Foreign Spacecraft by means of U.S. Launch Vehicles; and
d. N.Z. Spacecraft by means of U.S. Launch Vehicles. [/i]
It isn't a U.S. launch vehicle.  It is designed in New Zealand, developed in New Zealand, tested in New Zealand, built in New Zealand, and will be launched in New Zealand by New Zealand citizens.  I've never read about the "big chunks" of U.S. hardware that you mentioned.  The company's U.S. presence (an office in an office park) is, in my view, only due to the source of some venture capital. 

Perhaps all of those U.S. regulations apply, but I can't for the life of me see why.  It would be like the FAA regulating all Proton launches in Kazakhstan because International Launch Services (a Russian-owned company) has an office in Virginia.

Rocket Labs doesn't just "have an office" in the U.S. -- it's officially a U.S. company.  Their launch vehicle uses U.S. technology that is covered by ITAR.  ringsider even gave a specific example of some of that sensitive U.S. technology: "LOX-tolerant CFRP which comes from TenCate, a US corporation".

Russia has an extensive aerospace industry, so it could build Proton without any U.S. technology.  New Zealand does not have that.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: HMXHMX on 09/18/2016 01:18 AM
this is interesting, maybe Jim -others can chime in on this...


Can be encapsulated by the customer, is this new?

Not new. Under the DARPA FALCON program AirLaunch LLC developed an "ECE" or Encapsulated Cargo Element that would have been used in the exact same manner.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Davidthefat on 09/18/2016 02:22 AM
The purpose of this Agreement is to preclude unauthorized access to or transfer of technologies associated with the launching from New Zealand of:

a. U.S. Launch Vehicles; 
b. U.S. Spacecraft by means of U.S. Launch Vehicles;
c. Foreign Spacecraft by means of U.S. Launch Vehicles; and
d. N.Z. Spacecraft by means of U.S. Launch Vehicles. [/i]
It isn't a U.S. launch vehicle.  It is designed in New Zealand, developed in New Zealand, tested in New Zealand, built in New Zealand, and will be launched in New Zealand by New Zealand citizens.  I've never read about the "big chunks" of U.S. hardware that you mentioned.  The company's U.S. presence (an office in an office park) is, in my view, only due to the source of some venture capital. 

Perhaps all of those U.S. regulations apply, but I can't for the life of me see why.  It would be like the FAA regulating all Proton launches in Kazakhstan because International Launch Services (a Russian-owned company) has an office in Virginia.

Rocket Labs doesn't just "have an office" in the U.S. -- it's officially a U.S. company.  Their launch vehicle uses U.S. technology that is covered by ITAR.  ringsider even gave a specific example of some of that sensitive U.S. technology: "LOX-tolerant CFRP which comes from TenCate, a US corporation".

Russia has an extensive aerospace industry, so it could build Proton without any U.S. technology.  New Zealand does not have that.



Says right here on their career page: https://rocketlabusa.com/engineer/

"The company is expanding globally and is currently growing the team based at Rocket Lab’s Los Angeles headquarters."

Looks like from other postings on their site, most of the engineering is done in New Zealand. Looks like designing, testing and manufacturing is done in New Zealand based on the position types available.

Seems like their plan is to have concurrent operations in the US and New Zealand, but the US site is solely for producing launch vehicles intended to launch from the US. They are hiring engineers to develop the factory state side, from the description.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: edkyle99 on 09/18/2016 02:57 AM
Rocket Labs doesn't just "have an office" in the U.S. -- it's officially a U.S. company. 
"Officially" is just semantics in this case, as far as I'm concerned.  Here's their office building.  They have rented space on the fifth floor.  I'm certain that there's no room for rockets!

https://www.pbcenters.com/Regions/Los-Angeles-County/HOWARD-HUGHES-CENTER-office-space-HHC.aspx?utm_source=google&utm_medium=places&utm_campaign=la-howard-hughes

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Davidthefat on 09/18/2016 03:01 AM
Rocket Labs doesn't just "have an office" in the U.S. -- it's officially a U.S. company. 
"Officially" is just semantics in this case, as far as I'm concerned.  Here's their office building.  They have rented space on the fifth floor.  I'm certain that there's no room for rockets!

https://www.pbcenters.com/Regions/Los-Angeles-County/HOWARD-HUGHES-CENTER-office-space-HHC.aspx?utm_source=google&utm_medium=places&utm_campaign=la-howard-hughes

 - Ed Kyle

The powerpoint that ringsider posted specifically says that the HQ is a 115,000 sq ft factory in LA. I'm guessing that the office space was just an office they used to officially incorporate in the US before moving forward with the US operations.

I found a slide deck via Google with some very recent shots / details that I don't think have been made public before:-

http://usgif.org/system/uploads/4606/original/ROCKET_LAB_INTRO_USGIF.pdf

e.g.

- 120 employees now, 25% PhD
- S1 has a separate power pack at 1M watts
- Apogee kick motor
- 5 sites incl tracking station
- photos of factory and production line
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 09/18/2016 03:34 AM
Rocket Labs doesn't just "have an office" in the U.S. -- it's officially a U.S. company. 
"Officially" is just semantics in this case, as far as I'm concerned.

Ed, this whole back-and-forth started because you expressed disbelief that the FAA would have jurisdiction over RocketLabs.  Well, as far as jurisdiction is concerned, it matters that they are legally a U.S. company.

They chose to be a U.S. company.  Why?  Probably for three big reasons: (1) they get to use ITAR-controlled technology; (2) they get access to the US government market; and (3) they get easier access to US venture capital.  In return, they have to accept FAA oversight.

There's really nothing more to it.  Whether they do their own engineering in New Zealand or anywhere else is beside the point.  The point is that they chose to be a U.S. company and that is why the FAA has jurisdiction.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 09/18/2016 06:29 AM
It isn't a U.S. launch vehicle.  It is designed in New Zealand, developed in New Zealand, tested in New Zealand, built in New Zealand, and will be launched in New Zealand by New Zealand citizens.  ... The company's U.S. presence (an office in an office park) is, in my view, only due to the source of some venture capital. 

From rocketlabusa.com website:

Rocket Lab is a US corporation with a New Zealand subsidiary, and has complete vertical integration over the launch process, from rocket manufacturing through to our its own commercial launch range.

From the slide deck I posted, and that you obviously didn't have time to read:

(http://i.imgur.com/etM4x0V.png)

There were even questions in the NZ parliament when they made the switch, as Rocket Lab took about $20M NZD in public subsidy / Callaghan Innovation grants prior to that change in domicile. Its all public record if you want to look:

(http://i.imgur.com/XneJauJ.png)

I've never read about the "big chunks" of U.S. hardware that you mentioned. 

You need to read more. The "big chunks" are propulsion, avionics, GNC and electronics. This is from another slide deck that is out there in the wild:-

(http://i.imgur.com/BttR3IO.png)

The current status is simple: they are a US corporation*, flying a US launcher under US authority and control. It needs to be under the oversight and control of US citizens, unless the NZ staff have special authorization. You can disbelieve that all you like, but that is the fact of the matter. That's why they now have a US flag on the launcher:-

(http://i.imgur.com/vqc0cfq.png)

*I believe they are now majority US-owned as they won a small $100k SBIR grant for an AFTS development, and SBIR is for companies with 50%+ US ownership; Peter Beck had 60% just after the Khosla transaction but I imagine that dropped below 50% when Lockheed Martin and Bessemer joined the party.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 09/18/2016 07:18 AM
I'm not disputing their legal/licensing status, but that one slide with the statement about how much manufacturing is happening in US doesn't seem right according to other publicly available sources. They simply do not seem have enough people in US to do all of that, or they hid these people well somehow.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Hobbes-22 on 09/18/2016 08:21 AM

Rocket Labs doesn't just "have an office" in the U.S. -- it's officially a U.S. company.  Their launch vehicle uses U.S. technology that is covered by ITAR.  ringsider even gave a specific example of some of that sensitive U.S. technology: "LOX-tolerant CFRP which comes from TenCate, a US corporation".


Ironically, Ten Cate is a Dutch company that has a US subsidiary to make selling stuff to the US military easier. So we have two companies subjecting themselves to US regulations when they could have done nonencumbered business outside US jursidiction instead.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 09/18/2016 08:38 AM
I'm not disputing their legal/licensing status, but that one slide with the statement about how much manufacturing is happening in US doesn't seem right according to other publicly available sources. They simply do not seem have enough people in US to do all of that, or they hid these people well somehow.

In that regard I tend to agree with you. That slide is from July, and it looks to me that it is a freshly rented facility. But the issue that will drive work to that location will be export of critical parts like GNC gyros to NZ.

They are now hiring people for that location e.g.:

https://rocketlabusa.com/payloads-structure-and-mechanisms-engineer/

Work will be based in our Los Angeles facility with support from our subsidiary office in Auckland, New Zealand.

And the hiring rules are different for LA-based roles compared to NZ based roles:

LA: To conform to US Government space technology export regulations, applicants must be a US citizen, lawful permanent resident of the US, protected individual as defined by 8 USC 1324b(a)(3), or eligible to obtain the required authorization from the US Department of State.

NZ: For security reasons background checks will be undertaken prior to any employment offers being made to an applicant.  These checks will include nationality checks as it is a requirement of this position that you be eligible to access equipment and data regulated by the United States International Traffic in Arms Regulations.  Under these Regulations, you may be ineligible for this role if you do not hold citizenship of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, the European Union or a country that is part of NATO, or if you hold ineligible dual citizenship or nationality. 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: edkyle99 on 09/18/2016 04:18 PM
I've never read about the "big chunks" of U.S. hardware that you mentioned. 
You need to read more. The "big chunks" are propulsion, avionics, GNC and electronics.
Rutherford was developed in New Zealand.  What other propulsion is there?

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Prober on 09/18/2016 05:28 PM
this is interesting, maybe Jim -others can chime in on this...


Can be encapsulated by the customer, is this new?

Not new. Under the DARPA FALCON program AirLaunch LLC developed an "ECE" or Encapsulated Cargo Element that would have been used in the exact same manner.


Thx for the info
Looks like a great opportunity to keep costs inline for tight projects, and open many new doors.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 09/18/2016 05:50 PM
I've never read about the "big chunks" of U.S. hardware that you mentioned. 
You need to read more. The "big chunks" are propulsion, avionics, GNC and electronics.
Rutherford was developed in New Zealand.  What other propulsion is there?

 - Ed Kyle
The Avionics, fuel tanks, launch pad structures, electric turbopumps were all designed and built in NZ. They buy in components like electric motors, batteries, electric components, carbon fibres etc just like every other vehicle (car, plane boat LV) manufacturer.

Most importantly software would have been developed locally, this one of more important and expensive parts of LV development these days.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 09/18/2016 07:56 PM
Electron? Why not name it something more interesting like Thorondor, lord of the Eagles in Middle Earth during the First Age?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Skyrocket on 09/18/2016 08:23 PM
Electron? Why not name it something more interesting like Thorondor, lord of the Eagles in Middle Earth during the First Age?
Likely because the name is very fitting due to the electric powered pumps of the Rutherford engines. And because "Thorondor" is still copyrighted by Middle-earth Enterprises (formerly known as Tolkien Enterprises)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 09/18/2016 10:40 PM
Rutherford was developed in New Zealand. 

So?

What other propulsion is there?

There are some images on the Internet that show a 40kN turbopump-driven engine for E+, but you'd probably prefer to do the research yourself.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: PhotoEngineer on 09/19/2016 03:47 PM

Likely because the name is very fitting due to the electric powered pumps of the Rutherford engines. And because "Thorondor" is still copyrighted by Middle-earth Enterprises (formerly known as Tolkien Enterprises)
[/quote]

That would be a pretty cool name though.  Or Nazgul depending on your business intentions.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: edkyle99 on 09/19/2016 03:56 PM
Rutherford was developed in New Zealand. 
So?
The claim I to which I was responding was that "big chunks" of Electron's propulsion was developed in the United States, which obviously is not true when Rutherford, the primary engine for the rocket, was developed and test fired in New Zealand, etc.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 09/19/2016 06:21 PM
The claim I to which I was responding was that "big chunks" of Electron's propulsion was developed in the United States.

That is not what was said.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: edkyle99 on 09/19/2016 09:43 PM
The claim I to which I was responding was that "big chunks" of Electron's propulsion was developed in the United States.

That is not what was said.
That is how I read it during this exchange:
Quote
Quote
Quote from: edkyle99 on 09/17/2016 05:53 PM

    I've never read about the "big chunks" of U.S. hardware that you mentioned.
You need to read more. The "big chunks" are propulsion, avionics, GNC and electronics. This is from another slide deck that is out there in the wild:-

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Darkseraph on 09/19/2016 10:11 PM
Electron? Why not name it something more interesting like Thorondor, lord of the Eagles in Middle Earth during the First Age?

Electrons are much smaller than Protons. One of the biggest vehicles on the market is the failure prone Russian Proton Launcher. It is fitting a relatively tiny launcher that uses batteries to power its pumps should be called Electron.

Although, I would totally dig it if they named it Uruk-hai with a rough white hand insignia elmblazoned on the side!
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Zed_Noir on 09/20/2016 01:21 AM
Electron? Why not name it something more interesting like Thorondor, lord of the Eagles in Middle Earth during the First Age?

Electrons are much smaller than Protons. One of the biggest vehicles on the market is the failure prone Russian Proton Launcher. It is fitting a relatively tiny launcher that uses batteries to power its pumps should be called Electron.

Although, I would totally dig it if they named it Uruk-hai Orthanc with a rough white hand insignia elmblazoned on the side!
Fix that for you.  ;)

The Electron is a black cylinder after all.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Davidthefat on 09/20/2016 03:34 AM
Since KSC's pad 39C is being shared with Firefly, is there any news on how the mobile launcher is going on either side (Firefly or Rocket Lab)? Rocket Lab is planning an early 2017 launch for the Venture class contract; is there appropriate infrastructure available to go ahead with the launch? From what I can find, the pad only supports methane and not RP-1.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 09/20/2016 04:08 AM
All that is public knowledge at this point is:
1. Rocketlab are building a launch pad at Mahia in New Zealand.
2. Current manufacturing facilities are located in Airpark Drive, Auckland.
3. They plan test flights from Mahia starting no earlier than December this year.
4. Mission Control for these (and maybe other) flights is located across the road from the manufacturing center.
5. Peter Beck has grand plans.

So, if and when they do anything at Pad 39C is anyone's guess, but one thing is for certain: they have to launch a rocket or two from the North Island of New Zealand first...


https://vimeo.com/179507781

https://rocketlabusa.com/rocket-lab-launch-site-nears-completion-ahead-of-test-launches/ (https://rocketlabusa.com/rocket-lab-launch-site-nears-completion-ahead-of-test-launches/)


     
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: S.Paulissen on 09/20/2016 04:21 PM
Electron? Why not name it something more interesting like Thorondor, lord of the Eagles in Middle Earth during the First Age?

Electrons are much smaller than Protons. One of the biggest vehicles on the market is the failure prone Russian Proton Launcher. It is fitting a relatively tiny launcher that uses batteries to power its pumps should be called Electron.

Although, I would totally dig it if they named it Uruk-hai Orthanc with a rough white hand insignia elmblazoned on the side!
Fix that for you.  ;)

The Electron is a black cylinder after all.

Rocket Launch or Barad Dur? You decide.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Zed_Noir on 09/20/2016 05:17 PM
Electron? Why not name it something more interesting like Thorondor, lord of the Eagles in Middle Earth during the First Age?

Electrons are much smaller than Protons. One of the biggest vehicles on the market is the failure prone Russian Proton Launcher. It is fitting a relatively tiny launcher that uses batteries to power its pumps should be called Electron.

Although, I would totally dig it if they named it Uruk-hai Orthanc with a rough white hand insignia elmblazoned on the side!
Fix that for you.  ;)

The Electron is a black cylinder after all.

Rocket Launch or Barad Dur? You decide.

That will require the change of the livery from a rough white hand to an unblinking red eye.  ;D
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 09/20/2016 08:53 PM
The claim I to which I was responding was that "big chunks" of Electron's propulsion was developed in the United States.

Again, that is not what was said.

Firstly, I said "made". You said "developed". Those are not equivalent words.

Secondly, the company itself, who I quoted and who probably know more about what they are doing internally that you or I, says propulsion is "manufactured" in the USA. "Made" and "manufactured" are equivalent words.

Feel free to research those things yourself.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Zed_Noir on 09/21/2016 01:07 AM
Electron? Why not name it something more interesting like Thorondor, lord of the Eagles in Middle Earth during the First Age?

Electrons are much smaller than Protons. One of the biggest vehicles on the market is the failure prone Russian Proton Launcher. It is fitting a relatively tiny launcher that uses batteries to power its pumps should be called Electron.

Although, I would totally dig it if they named it Uruk-hai Orthanc with a rough white hand insignia elmblazoned on the side!
Fix that for you.  ;)

The Electron is a black cylinder after all.

Rocket Launch or Barad Dur? You decide.

That will require the change of the livery from a rough white hand to an unblinking red eye.  ;D
That will require the change of the livery from a rough white hand to an unblinking red eye.  ;D
By "rough white hand", I assume you're referring to the Silver Fern marking on the tail end of the rocket?!?
...
It is a reply to @Darkseraph on his post about naming the Electron as Uruk-hai in jest with a rough white hand insignia. Which is the symbol of Saruman's forces in the Middle-Earth tales. Didn't you watch any of the Lord of the Rings movie?  ???
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: edkyle99 on 09/21/2016 02:36 AM
The claim I to which I was responding was that "big chunks" of Electron's propulsion was developed in the United States.

Again, that is not what was said.

Firstly, I said "made". You said "developed". Those are not equivalent words.
The answer is the same for both words.
Quote
Secondly, the company itself, who I quoted and who probably know more about what they are doing internally that you or I, says propulsion is "manufactured" in the USA. "Made" and "manufactured" are equivalent words.

Feel free to research those things yourself.
I have.  Please show me a photo of Rocket Lab actually manufacturing something, anything, in the United States.  We have seen photos and videos of engines and other hardware built and tested in New Zealand. 

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Lars-J on 09/21/2016 04:26 PM
The claim I to which I was responding was that "big chunks" of Electron's propulsion was developed in the United States.

Again, that is not what was said.

Firstly, I said "made". You said "developed". Those are not equivalent words.
The answer is the same for both words.
Quote
Secondly, the company itself, who I quoted and who probably know more about what they are doing internally that you or I, says propulsion is "manufactured" in the USA. "Made" and "manufactured" are equivalent words.

Feel free to research those things yourself.
I have.  Please show me a photo of Rocket Lab actually manufacturing something, anything, in the United States.  We have seen photos and videos of engines and other hardware built and tested in New Zealand. 

 - Ed Kyle

IT. DOESN'T. MATTER. They have chosen to make themselves a U.S. based company, so your original disbelief that they were under the jurisdiction of the FAA has been corrected. Why keep moving the goalposts?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: edkyle99 on 09/23/2016 02:44 PM
IT. DOESN'T. MATTER. They have chosen to make themselves a U.S. based company, so your original disbelief that they were under the jurisdiction of the FAA has been corrected. Why keep moving the goalposts?
I understand the FAA thing.  It is bureaucracy doing that thing that it does. 

What matters, to me, is correctly categorizing this launch vehicle.  New Zealanders should, and certainly will, celebrate it as a historic New Zealand achievement.  I'm hoping that Electron will not insult them by only sporting a giant American flag as shown in the drawings.  I'm also hoping that reporters won't be fooled by the corporate publicity effort and call this an "American" launch vehicle in their stories.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 09/23/2016 04:06 PM
IT. DOESN'T. MATTER. They have chosen to make themselves a U.S. based company, so your original disbelief that they were under the jurisdiction of the FAA has been corrected. Why keep moving the goalposts?
I understand the FAA thing.  It is bureaucracy doing that thing that it does. 

What matters, to me, is correctly categorizing this launch vehicle.  New Zealanders should, and certainly will, celebrate it as a historic New Zealand achievement.  I'm hoping that Electron will not insult them by only sporting a giant American flag as shown in the drawings.  I'm also hoping that reporters won't be fooled by the corporate publicity effort and call this an "American" launch vehicle in their stories.

 - Ed Kyle

If you have some proof that this is not an American company, with US headquarters, majority owned by US corporations or US nationals, launching a US vehicle, containing ITAR-controlled US technology, from a US-controlled range under US FAA regulation, requiring a US launch licence, and staffed exclusively by US citizens or foreign nationals approved at the sole discretion of the US government, please go ahead and post it.

If not, please stop being silly.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 09/23/2016 04:17 PM
Most of their people are in Auckland. They call NZ operations a 'subsidiary' in official docs for a while now. In NZ press, they are a NZ company though.

http://imgur.com/xtNPnvJ
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: edkyle99 on 09/23/2016 05:39 PM
You guys are missing my point.  It isn't about where the HQ is located.  It is about the rocket itself. 

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 09/23/2016 05:57 PM
You guys are missing my point.  It isn't about where the HQ is located.  It is about the rocket itself. 

 - Ed Kyle
The rocket itself and people that build it - and will operate it - are all in NZ, no question.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 09/23/2016 06:51 PM
The rocket itself and people that build it - and will operate it - are all in NZ, no question.

I think that was once true, but isn't any longer (posting more than 60 days old now):-

(http://i.imgur.com/3YBDVU8.jpg)


Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ncb1397 on 09/23/2016 10:35 PM
It is a New Zealand rocket that is trying to look American so it can compete for NASA business.

Quote
NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) has awarded multiple Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) contracts to provide small satellites (SmallSats) -- also called CubeSats, microsats or nanosatellites -- access to low-Earth orbit.

The three companies selected to provide these new commercial launch capabilities, and the value of their firm fixed-price contracts, are:

Firefly Space Systems Inc. of Cedar Park, Texas, $5.5 million
Rocket Lab USA Inc. of Los Angeles, $6.9 million
Virgin Galactic LLC of Long Beach, California, $4.7 million
http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-awards-venture-class-launch-services-contracts-for-cubesat-satellites

Wow, look at that, U.S. tax dollars going to support american companies to be more competitive on the global marketplace. They even have USA in the name. How patriotic.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 09/23/2016 11:16 PM
It is a New Zealand rocket that is trying to look American so it can compete for NASA business.

Actually they are now majority US-owned. The NZ shareholders are a minority.

What has actually happened is that all the NZ tax dollars that went into Rocket Lab will now be milked, in large part, for the benefit of US shareholders and US taxpayers.  For example, the Callaghan Innovation Grant they got which I believe was $10m over two years (http://www.callaghaninnovation.govt.nz/annual-report-2016/rocket-lab) came just before they became formally American.

Now that their technology is ripe for plucking, it will be delivering around NZ$400-NZ$1B in economic benefits (this is an official number from an official NZ govt. economic impact report on Rocket Lab you can find on the web if you look),  a lot of which will flow to the majority shareholders in the US, including Lockheed Martin, Bessemer, and Khosla Ventures. The shareholdings are also on the web for free if you know how to look - in fact Peter Beck has complained to the source of the info about it being there.

You can also confirm they have a majority US holding as they got this SBIR award:-

https://www.sbir.gov/sbirsearch/detail/872331

And as I am sure you know the criteria for SBIR qualification are as follows:

The majority (more than 50%) of your firms' equity (e.g. stock) is directly owned and controlled by one of the following:-
- One or more individuals who are citizens or permanent resident alien of the U.S.
- Other for-profit small business concerns (each of which is directly owned and controlled individuals who are citizens or permanent resident alien of the U.S.)
- A combination of (1) and (2).
- Multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, private equity firms, or any combination of these, so long as no one such firm owns or controls more than 50% of the equity.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 09/24/2016 06:38 AM
http://imgur.com/xtNPnvJ

That image is great.

First it lists two different founding dates, 2007 and 2008, when it was actually founded in 2006:-

Company number: 1835428
NZ Business Number: 9429034019108
Incorporation Date: 29 Jun 2006
Company Status: Registered
Entity type: NZ Limited Company

Hence the celebration of 10 years just recently.

Then it says Rocket Lab is headquartered in Los Angeles in the text, only to go on to state the HQ is in New Zealand in the footer data.

Is that from LinkedIn?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: RonM on 09/24/2016 01:35 PM
This discussion about whether Rocketlab is a New Zealand or US company doesn't recognize how multinational corporations work.

Sometimes for tax or regulation reasons it is beneficial for a corporation to create a totally new corporation in another country. These two corporate entities are legally separate, they just happen to be owned by the same people. With the same people running both corporations, obviously they will cooperate with each other. However, they may open themselves up to regulation by government agencies such as the FAA.

In this case ITAR may have had something to do with it.

It's complicated corporate law in two different countries and really is off topic.

What's important here from a NSF point of view is that Rocketlab is building a new rocket.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Davidthefat on 09/24/2016 04:19 PM


What's important here from a NSF point of view is that Rocketlab is building a new rocket.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11715402

According to the news article, they currently are producing three vehicles concurrently, all three at different levels of completion. Their launch date is set at 3 months from now.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 09/24/2016 06:09 PM
I do wonder how they are going get on launching over December January holiday period. Mahia is popular holiday destination with lot of boaties and fishermen. Keeping downrange clear of boats maybe a mission especially as lot of boats won't have radios turned on if they have one.

Picking a windy day would be their best bet. Anything over 20knots should keep most boats off the water.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: NaN on 09/24/2016 09:49 PM
I do wonder how they are going get on launching over December January holiday period. Mahia is popular holiday destination with lot of boaties and fishermen. Keeping downrange clear of boats maybe a mission especially as lot of boats won't have radios turned on if they have one.

Picking a windy day would be their best bet. Anything over 20knots should keep most boats off the water.

That is the first time I've ever heard that in the context of a rocket launch!

Range safety won't even be practiced in how to track and deter boats. Whether they keep that time-frame or not, multiple delays for this and other reasons will not be surprising.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 09/25/2016 07:56 PM
I think what this means is that they are energy density limited by this solution. Unless battery tech improves to increase the density from the same number (ie., mass) of batteries, they can't energize larger pumps to feed fuel to much larger engines without a quite serious mass penalty. This probably means they need to move to old school turbopumps if the vehicle is to evolve.

That's been the consistent opinion -- electric pumps only work out for small engines because it's difficult and expensive to design really small gas turbines for conventional turbopumps. It might not be any more difficult or expensive than designing a large turbine, but if the cost doesn't scale down with engine size it becomes a problem. Even in this application the batteries are on the edge of being worth it -- weight of the PT6A turboshaft engine is given as 122kg and there is a version of that which has output over 1MW. Of course you need a generator too. If it only needs to run 3 minutes, SFC is given as 0.408 kg/kW*hr which amounts to about 20kg of fuel. It would need to be made to work on RP-1+GOX. Of course it's likely batteries are at least one order of magnitude cheaper than this, possibly two (comparing using a PT6+generator vs a big pile of batteries).

On this topic, why would they hire a guy with a turbomachinery background into Propulsion? Is something changing?

(http://i.imgur.com/YA0aDgX.png)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 09/25/2016 08:13 PM
A turbine pump is still turbomachinery even if it's electrically driven.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: baldusi on 09/25/2016 08:38 PM
A turbine pump is still turbomachinery even if it's electrically driven.
This is something I find sort of inconsistent. Are axial and centrifugal pumps considered turbomachinery?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Davidthefat on 09/25/2016 10:40 PM
A turbine pump is still turbomachinery even if it's electrically driven.
This is something I find sort of inconsistent. Are axial and centrifugal pumps considered turbomachinery?

Anything that transfers energy between a rotor and a fluid. Pumps transfer energy from a rotor to the fluid. While turbines do the opposite.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 09/26/2016 12:51 AM
A turbine pump is still turbomachinery even if it's electrically driven.
This is something I find sort of inconsistent. Are axial and centrifugal pumps considered turbomachinery?
How is it inconsistent?

To reiterate the person above me, the standard understanding of "turbomachinery" includes both turbines AND pumps:
"Turbomachinery, in mechanical engineering, describes machines that transfer energy between a rotor and a fluid, including both turbines and compressors."
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 09/26/2016 03:01 AM
A turbine pump is still turbomachinery even if it's electrically driven.
This is something I find sort of inconsistent. Are axial and centrifugal pumps considered turbomachinery?
How is it inconsistent?

To reiterate the person above me, the standard understanding of "turbomachinery" includes both turbines AND pumps:
"Turbomachinery, in mechanical engineering, describes machines that transfer energy between a rotor and a fluid, including both turbines and compressors."

Besides, "turbomachinery" sounds so much cooler on a CV than "pump"...  :)
 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Kryten on 09/27/2016 09:06 AM
https://rocketlabusa.com/rocket-lab-launch-complex-1-ready-for-launches/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rl3L9tyStsg
Quote
Rocket Lab is pleased to announce the completion of the world’s first private orbital launch complex, Launch Complex 1.
Located on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula, Launch Complex 1 is set to enable the highest frequency of space launches in history.  The facility will be the primary site for launches of Rocket Lab’s Electron vehicle, designed to lift a 150 kg payload to a 500 km sun-synchronous orbit.
New Zealand’s remote island location and low volume of marine and air traffic create ideal conditions for frequent launch opportunities. In addition, launches from the site can access a uniquely wide range of orbital inclinations – from 39 degrees through sun-synchronous.
Facilities at Launch Complex 1 include a vehicle processing hangar where the vehicle will be prepared for launch as well as a 50 tonne launch platform. The platform will tilt forward to lift the rocket to a vertical position prior to launch.
Satellites launched from the complex will be used to provide services including optimized crop monitoring, improved weather reporting, internet from space, natural disaster prediction, up-to-date maritime data and search and rescue services.
Rocket Lab has completed major milestones this year with the qualification of the 3D printed Rutherford engine, qualification of the second stage of the Electron rocket and the development of major infrastructure including remote tracking, test facilities and the launch site. The company is currently working through the qualification of the first stage of the Electron rocket and will look to begin the test flight phase once qualification and launch licencing are complete.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: MATTBLAK on 09/27/2016 09:24 AM
http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/new-zealand-to-become-space-leader-with-new-launch-site-2016092719
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Prober on 10/01/2016 04:31 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmhj-xUrA2g
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Dante80 on 10/02/2016 02:39 AM
That is a stunning place to be. Almost edging Tanegashima for the most beautiful launch site location in the planet..
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 10/02/2016 04:32 PM
Looks like Rocket Lab may have filed a bunch of patents:-

https://www.baldwins.com/our-work/case-studies/rocket-lab-ltd-affordable-high-frequency-launches-for-satellites
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 10/02/2016 10:14 PM
Looks like Rocket Lab may have filed a bunch of patents:-

https://www.baldwins.com/our-work/case-studies/rocket-lab-ltd-affordable-high-frequency-launches-for-satellites

Given the US/NZ partnership they have set up and what they are trying to achieve, that isn't surprising: that's where the real money is.
 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 10/02/2016 10:14 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmhj-xUrA2g

Yet another sunny day in the North Island... and it's nice to see nothing, NOTHING, affects Peter's hairdo!  ;D

It's also nice to see they're still on track for a test launch by the end of the year.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Lars-J on 10/03/2016 06:36 AM
I do wonder how many days of good weather (low winds) per year you can expect at such a scenic location, though.

But I'm impressed by the progress so far. :)  (And Peter, get a hair cut!)  ;)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: orulz on 10/20/2016 03:10 PM
Two recent articles on RocketLab:
(1) paywalled: they are considering how to ramp up manufacturing - through automation or hiring more people:
http://www.defensedaily.com/rocket-lab-debating-best-ramp-up-production-approach-hands-on-or-automated (http://www.defensedaily.com/rocket-lab-debating-best-ramp-up-production-approach-hands-on-or-automated)

(2) mentioning the political machinations within the NZ government to enable regulation of space launching. Tucked in there is a mention of road closures near their complex between November 17th and December 24th, and a mention at least that their first test launch will happen before Christmas.
http://gisborneherald.co.nz/localnews/2517537-135/bill-to-help-others-follow-in (http://gisborneherald.co.nz/localnews/2517537-135/bill-to-help-others-follow-in)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 10/20/2016 04:10 PM
Looks like a road trip to Mahia before Christmas is called for. Hope it is weekend launch as I'm short on leave.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 10/26/2016 06:00 PM
Good article from Space.com, nothing really new.

http://www.space.com/34364-rocket-lab-small-satellite-launch-race.html
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 10/26/2016 07:56 PM
Looks like a road trip to Mahia before Christmas is called for. Hope it is weekend launch as I'm short on leave.

If they announce a date for the launch I'll come join you. Are the beaches good?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 10/26/2016 09:34 PM
Small amount of new detail on dates:

Rocket launches could start in November

ROCKET LAB could begin its test launches from Launch Complex 1 on Onenui Station by the middle of next month.

The space company has applied for a road closure between November 17 and December 24. Launch dates are yet to be confirmed and the road closure period will be shortened and refined closer to the launch date.
Rocket Lab operations manager Shane Fleming said there is increasing excitement around viewing a launch and residents will be updated on the plans.

He said the electron rocket will go through a series of tests before it is commercially available and he anticipated three test flights of the rocket before commercial operations begin.

Mr Fleming said Rocket Lab’s focus during the test phase will be on successfully launching the vehicle, optimising operations and ensuring minimal disruption to neighbours.

He said Rocket Lab’s recomm- endation is to wait and view the launches in the commercial phase as the variables around the test phase launches mean people could spend a lot of time waiting for a launch.
“It is possible during the test period that planned launches will be postponed or rescheduled to another day,” Mr Feming said.

Wairoa District Council is evaluating potential viewing locations for the commercial phase of launches and logistics and visibility for future viewing will be assessed during the test phase.

For safety reasons, during a launch, Rocket Lab has requested restrictions on parts of Mahia East Coast Road (from Wainuiorangi Road to Onenui Station) and the unformed Tawapata Road.

“Safety is the absolute priority and there are formal requirements around creating safety zones and road closures.”

Mr Fleming said the Mahia East Coast road is extremely narrow at points and ill-suited to heavy traffic. Due to concerns around a potential influx of spectators looking to access the site during launch, access will be restricted and vehicles turned around at a safe point.

Landowners with property in areas subject to closures will not have their access affected. “We’ll continue to consult with affected locals, the Wairoa District Council and other relevant groups. We want to ensure preparations for the test launch are well communicated to the community,” said Mr Fleming.

Rocket Lab is currently focussing on planning and consultation following the opening of the orbital launch site last Tuesday, Mr Fleming thanked all those involved in assisting Rocket Lab to get to this point, especially local contractors and businesses.


http://www.wairoastar.co.nz/Handlers/PdfHandler.aspx?d=1&p=Newspaper/20161006&f=wspage001
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: orulz on 10/26/2016 10:38 PM
Check out the date on that article - August 2015. That is from when they were still hoping to launch from Kaitorete Spit, and the fact that they were even considering Mahia at all was news. The launch site that was recently completed IS the second launch site the article is referring to.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 10/27/2016 03:50 AM
Looks like a road trip to Mahia before Christmas is called for. Hope it is weekend launch as I'm short on leave.

If they announce a date for the launch I'll come join you. Are the beaches good?
Beaches and weather are why it is popular holiday spot.

Viewing options will be limited, till local council find suitable location. Given narrow roading on headland it maybe a case of parking in centre/neck of peninsula and bus ride to viewing site. This would also allow locals and council to make some money from visitors.

Viewing from water is other option either by private or charter boat. Probably won't see LV till it clears pad.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/27/2016 05:27 AM
Any thoughts on how the recent cratering of Firefly will affect RocketLab?

I tend to think it will help RocketLab because it eliminates what might well have been their strongest competitor.

On the other hand, it also might tend to throw doubt on the whole industry and scare off investors.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 10/27/2016 05:38 AM
Check out the date on that article - August 2015.

Ah, I missed the 2015, thought it was this summer. Deleted.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Davidthefat on 10/27/2016 05:39 AM
Any thoughts on how the recent cratering of Firefly will affect RocketLab?

I tend to think it will help RocketLab because it eliminates what might well have been their strongest competitor.

On the other hand, it also might tend to throw doubt on the whole industry and scare off investors.


If I were a potential investor, I would be more concerned about the upcoming launches than the competitors' issues. In fact, the combination of good test flights and the situation at FFSS, would entice me to invest. Especially given that RLUS seems far ahead of any other competitors in regards to actually providing a working product.


Now, about getting that first stage qualified in time for the test flight... Any news on that front?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/27/2016 06:31 AM
Especially given that RLUS seems far ahead of any other competitors in regards to actually providing a working product.

They do seem ahead in regards to providing a product.  Whether it's a working product or not remains to be seen.

SpaceX failed on its first three launch attempts, then barely scraped up additional funding to try a fourth time.  I wonder how many failed attempts RL can afford.

Anyway, the reason I'd be scared to invest in RL isn't so much the technical risk that that won't be able to deliver cargo to orbit (though that is substantial) but the market risk that small expendable launchers are not economically competitive in the long run in the age of Blue Origin and SpaceX with their reusable, much larger, launchers.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 10/27/2016 06:41 AM
..the age of Blue Origin and SpaceX with their reusable, much larger, launchers.
I hope you are not forgetting that this age of reusable rockets was first heralded over 3 years ago now, with no tangible deliverables so far in terms of cost reductions or turnaround times. With a reasonable turnaround time three years is a lot of time to actually generate revenue, if you can keep a rocket in service.
Soviets managed to fly R7's at a record turnaround time of roughly once a week a few decades ago, and Electron is a lot smaller. If payloads show up, there is plenty of business to be made.

A reasonable advice often given to startups is - forget what the industry giants might be doing in terms of competition, focus on delivering your value proposition and if you do it well, competition won't matter.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/27/2016 07:18 AM
..the age of Blue Origin and SpaceX with their reusable, much larger, launchers.
I hope you are not forgetting that this age of reusable rockets was first heralded over 3 years ago now, with no tangible deliverables so far in terms of cost reductions or turnaround times. With a reasonable turnaround time three years is a lot of time to actually generate revenue, if you can keep a rocket in service.

Go ahead and tell a venture capitalist that your business plan is to run your business for just 3 years and then shut down the company because by then competitors will crush you.  See if you get funded.

VC's might only have a 3-5 year time horizon, but that's because at the end of that time they hope to have a much more valuable business that they can sell.  No VC would ever invest in something that will be worth zero in three years just for the cash flow coming in over those three years.

Soviets managed to fly R7's at a record turnaround time of roughly once a week a few decades ago, and Electron is a lot smaller. If payloads show up, there is plenty of business to be made.

A reasonable advice often given to startups is - forget what the industry giants might be doing in terms of competition, focus on delivering your value proposition and if you do it well, competition won't matter.

Well, I currently work at a start-up in Silicon Valley and have worked at other start-ups in the Valley, some successful some not, and I can tell you that is the exact opposite of everything I've ever heard.  You always need to be paying attention to the competition and anticipating it and have strategies to survive it.  What everyone worries about is having something special that the competition does not.  As Intel is fond of saying, "Only the paranoid survive."  Ignoring the competition is a very good way to guarantee failure.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 10/27/2016 09:37 PM
So far there really isn't any evidence that reusable rockets will ever be profitable. It's a shame, as true believers like us want them for our space dreams, but in terms of actually delivering a product you're taking a huge gamble by betting on reusability. Lean efficient production of small rockets to reduce operational costs with minimal R&D is a very competitive path. There's an opportunity now to start offering services at affordable prices with a healthy profit margin and reinvest in trimming the margins. Rockets are not commodity products, you care where your launch comes from because that affects your business case. There's lots of facets. RocketLab are aiming to win on facets that most other providers are ignoring.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/27/2016 10:15 PM
So far there really isn't any evidence that reusable rockets will ever be profitable. It's a shame, as true believers like us want them for our space dreams, but in terms of actually delivering a product you're taking a huge gamble by betting on reusability. Lean efficient production of small rockets to reduce operational costs with minimal R&D is a very competitive path. There's an opportunity now to start offering services at affordable prices with a healthy profit margin and reinvest in trimming the margins. Rockets are not commodity products, you care where your launch comes from because that affects your business case. There's lots of facets. RocketLab are aiming to win on facets that most other providers are ignoring.

That's a reasonable argument.  It remains to be seen whether reusable rockets will be economically viable.  I think it's likely they will, but it's by no means certain, and, even if they are economically viable eventually, that doesn't mean that small, cheap expendables don't have a place for the short-to-mid-term until they are eventually displaced by reusables.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 10/28/2016 12:25 AM
Launch costs are split between vehicle cost, launch costs and payload integration. Rocket Lab seem to have low cost payload integration solution, being cubesats helps. Operational costs of their launch facilities are minor compared to likes of large F9 and Atlas launch facilities. See space.com article.

The only thing missing is low cost LV. 3D printing of engines has helped automate propulsion production, just need low cost assembly of tanks and stages.
Being able to manhandle a lot of parts eg engines, speeds up assembly considerably.

Building small LVs like Electron and LauncherOne is more like making missiles than current LVs.

The cheaper these expendable small LVs become, harder it is for RLVs to enter market. In saying that I do think RLVs will win out in long term.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Phil Stooke on 10/28/2016 12:36 AM
"So far there really isn't any evidence that reusable rockets will ever be profitable"

Is there any evidence - evidence - that they won't be profitable?  So far there has been no test of the hypothesis, only tests of the hardware and software.  This time next year we may have evidence for or against the profitability of reusables.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 10/28/2016 01:21 AM
So far there really isn't any evidence that reusable rockets will ever be profitable. It's a shame, as true believers like us want them for our space dreams, but in terms of actually delivering a product you're taking a huge gamble by betting on reusability. Lean efficient production of small rockets to reduce operational costs with minimal R&D is a very competitive path. There's an opportunity now to start offering services at affordable prices with a healthy profit margin and reinvest in trimming the margins. Rockets are not commodity products, you care where your launch comes from because that affects your business case. There's lots of facets. RocketLab are aiming to win on facets that most other providers are ignoring.

That's a reasonable argument.  It remains to be seen whether reusable rockets will be economically viable.  I think it's likely they will, but it's by no means certain, and, even if they are economically viable eventually, that doesn't mean that small, cheap expendables don't have a place for the short-to-mid-term until they are eventually displaced by reusables.

Personally, I think it comes down to material technology.  When thinking of RLVs it seems we all tend to switch off that part of the brain that processes what happens to the rocket on its way up (ridiculously high speeds, stupidly high heating, words like "plasma", "fireball", etc...) and think that somehow a thin aluminium shell is going to fare just as well over repeated flights as it does in a sub-sonic low-altitude airliner. ..but that's simply not true.

The reality is that small, cheap expendables will have a place unless and until some game-changing material technology comes along that can (quite literally) take the heat.
 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 10/28/2016 01:45 AM
Going rapidly off topic for RocketLab. They definitely have a window of opportunity here to show what they can do with small, easily operable rockets designed for ease of manufacturing, and reasonably sized team. Sitting paralyzed about what some theoretical competitor might do at some point in time with whatever technology is a good formula for not doing anything, ever.
Looking forward to the first launch.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 10/28/2016 03:36 AM
Looking forward to the first launch.

As are we all.. :)

Not long to wait.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/28/2016 05:20 AM
Personally, I think it comes down to material technology.  When thinking of RLVs it seems we all tend to switch off that part of the brain that processes what happens to the rocket on its way up (ridiculously high speeds, stupidly high heating, words like "plasma", "fireball", etc...) and think that somehow a thin aluminium shell is going to fare just as well over repeated flights as it does in a sub-sonic low-altitude airliner. ..but that's simply not true.

I don't know how you can say "that's simply not true" without any evidence.  The evidence suggests the opposite is true.  SpaceX has actually landed several stages, and after careful examination they have concluded that they can fly these "thin aluminium shell" stages over and over indefinitely.

These are the people who are actually launching real payloads into orbit.  They know what they're doing.  And they have landed stages, and they have examined them in detail.  And yet, somehow, you think that it's so obvious that they're wrong that you only have to say "that's simply not true" to refute them.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: high road on 10/28/2016 07:09 AM
Personally, I think it comes down to material technology.  When thinking of RLVs it seems we all tend to switch off that part of the brain that processes what happens to the rocket on its way up (ridiculously high speeds, stupidly high heating, words like "plasma", "fireball", etc...) and think that somehow a thin aluminium shell is going to fare just as well over repeated flights as it does in a sub-sonic low-altitude airliner. ..but that's simply not true.

I don't know how you can say "that's simply not true" without any evidence.  The evidence suggests the opposite is true.  SpaceX has actually landed several stages, and after careful examination they have concluded that they can fly these "thin aluminium shell" stages over and over indefinitely.

These are the people who are actually launching real payloads into orbit.  They know what they're doing.  And they have landed stages, and they have examined them in detail.  And yet, somehow, you think that it's so obvious that they're wrong that you only have to say "that's simply not true" to refute them.

Before anyone says blowing up a rocket on the launch pad during fueling with a payload on top says a thing or two how much they know what they're doing, let's wait for the first actual relaunch before drawing too many conclusions.

To bring this back on topic: you guys are forgetting that Beck has stated that the important thing is the 'per launch' cost and lead time to launch. Even with reusable rockets having a smaller price per kg of payload, 'mass' produced smaller launch vehicles still have a market segment to cater to: smaller payloads that don't want to wait for years until the next rideshare opportunity becomes available, or all the red tape that comes with that for the main customer or other rideshares to allow you to share the rocket. 'Order today, launch next week' (or next month, more likely) sounds like quite a good catch phrase.

Buying a ride years in advance means you need to have a lot of money early on, and a fixed deadline to finish the thing you want to launch. Not easy if you're launching something new and experimental. If you could focus on working the kinks out of what you want to launch, showing advancement every time you talk to whoever is giving you the money, and only buy the ride with the finished product in hand without having it lying around for years afterwards, that sounds much more convincing to investors/donators. And that's how Beck attracted his investors as well: show them the hardware. Attract more money, postpone costs to when you actually use what you buy, and go through tests and red tape with the actual hardware instead of plans and designs that might eventually turn out to not be less than optimal.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/28/2016 12:03 PM
Personally, I think it comes down to material technology.  When thinking of RLVs it seems we all tend to switch off that part of the brain that processes what happens to the rocket on its way up (ridiculously high speeds, stupidly high heating, words like "plasma", "fireball", etc...) and think that somehow a thin aluminium shell is going to fare just as well over repeated flights as it does in a sub-sonic low-altitude airliner. ..but that's simply not true.

I don't know how you can say "that's simply not true" without any evidence.  The evidence suggests the opposite is true.  SpaceX has actually landed several stages, and after careful examination they have concluded that they can fly these "thin aluminium shell" stages over and over indefinitely.

These are the people who are actually launching real payloads into orbit.  They know what they're doing.  And they have landed stages, and they have examined them in detail.  And yet, somehow, you think that it's so obvious that they're wrong that you only have to say "that's simply not true" to refute them.

Before anyone says blowing up a rocket on the launch pad during fueling with a payload on top says a thing or two how much they know what they're doing, let's wait for the first actual relaunch before drawing too many conclusions.

To bring this back on topic: you guys are forgetting that Beck has stated

Really?  On  the one hand, you're going to dismiss everything SpaceX has said about its actual experience landing rockets and doing extensive examination and testing of landed rockets.  On the other hand you're going to take the word of someone who has never even launched a rocket with a guidance system or telemetry.  Right.

You've got to be pretty strongly biased against SpaceX to use one mistake as an excuse to ignore all their successes while simultaneously ignoring all the lack of experience of Peter Beck.

that the important thing is the 'per launch' cost and lead time to launch.

Of course Beck is going to say that.  People starting companies are always going to spin things to put their own approach in the best possible light.

Even with reusable rockets having a smaller price per kg of payload, 'mass' produced smaller launch vehicles still have a market segment to cater to: smaller payloads that don't want to wait for years until the next rideshare opportunity becomes available,

If there's a big market for small payloads, rideshare opportunities won't be years apart, they'll be very common.  If there isn't a big market for small payloads, the volume will be too low for dedicated small launchers to have a business.

or all the red tape that comes with that for the main customer or other rideshares to allow you to share the rocket. 'Order today, launch next week' (or next month, more likely) sounds like quite a good catch phrase.

Rocket Labs is targeting about $5 million per launch.  Even without reusability, SpaceX's prices are far, far less per kg.  Rideshare launches will be much cheaper.  Customers for small sat launches usually are very price-sensitive, so there are unlikely to be many that will pay so much more just to launch with a week's notice.

Buying a ride years in advance means you need to have a lot of money early on, and a fixed deadline to finish the thing you want to launch.

The rideshare model doesn't envision requiring booking years in advance.  The idea is to have regular launches and let people catch the next launch, like catching a bus.

Not easy if you're launching something new and experimental. If you could focus on working the kinks out of what you want to launch, showing advancement every time you talk to whoever is giving you the money, and only buy the ride with the finished product in hand without having it lying around for years afterwards, that sounds much more convincing to investors/donators. And that's how Beck attracted his investors as well: show them the hardware. Attract more money, postpone costs to when you actually use what you buy, and go through tests and red tape with the actual hardware instead of plans and designs that might eventually turn out to not be less than optimal.

You're comparing Rocket Labs against a strawman, not against their actual competition, which is dedicated ride share launches on big launchers.  That competition is already here today.  Electron is not.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: high road on 10/28/2016 01:42 PM
No, I'm not taking anyone's word. Neither Musk's nor Beck's. No emotional reactions on my part ;-) just cheering for the promising future of space flight. Preferably with many succesful companies. I'll cheer to all their successes, take their timetables and claims with appropriate amounts of salt,  and cringe at all of the 'my man beats your man any day of the week' cheers.

Just pointing out that RL is going for a specific niche. Will it be big enough? Who knows. Their investors seem to think so. We'll see how they do. Same for everyone.

As for the existing competition of dedicated rideshares that can launch in a week, where are they? I see no reason to believe that current launchers can do that within a few years. They all have plenty of backlog. Who will be first to the punch? According to what I've seen the last few years, we'll have to wait another five or so at the least.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 10/28/2016 04:25 PM
The rideshare model doesn't envision requiring booking years in advance.  The idea is to have regular launches and let people catch the next launch, like catching a bus.
The risk equation for primary payloads and insurers would have to completely change. For a long time, nobody will put a Galaxy Note 7 based cubesat from the next earth observation startup next to hundreds of millions of dollars in assets of a publicly traded comm-sat operator on a whim.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 10/28/2016 04:32 PM
Most of LEO constellations need SSO orbits while most large LVs are GTO missions. In these cases ride share will not work out. A large dedicated ride share will put multiple satellites in same SSO orbit. Constellations require their satellites spread over multiple SSO orbits.

Being primary payload means the satellite ends up in ideal orbit using very little of its DV to get there. If satellite needs to reposition its self after drop off from rideshare that requires DV which increases build cost of satellite or reduces its mission life.

Ride shares have there uses especially for experimental technology demostration satellites that don't care about their orbit.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/28/2016 05:28 PM
The rideshare model doesn't envision requiring booking years in advance.  The idea is to have regular launches and let people catch the next launch, like catching a bus.
The risk equation for primary payloads and insurers would have to completely change. For a long time, nobody will put a Galaxy Note 7 based cubesat from the next earth observation startup next to hundreds of millions of dollars in assets of a publicly traded comm-sat operator on a whim.

Most of LEO constellations need SSO orbits while most large LVs are GTO missions.

You've both misunderstood what I meant by "rideshare".  I don't mean as a secondary payload on a launch of a big satellite.  I mean dedicated flights with nothing but small satellites.  Spaceflight Services already has such a flight booked on a Falcon 9 with its Sherpa dispenser and plans to fly such flights regularly.

http://www.spaceflight.com/

Anyway, secondary payloads on launches of large satellites are also a thing.  Not all large satellites are going to GEO, and the idea that the Samsung battery issue will change any of that is just silly.  Everyone already knew that batteries can explode.  Yes, if you want to ride with a big satellite you can't just put a cell phone in a cubesat on a whim.  But at $5 million a pop for an Electron launch, RL is out of the price range of the cell-phone-in-a-cubesat crowd.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 10/28/2016 06:37 PM
A single launch can put satellites in multiple planes as long as you have a little time to wait and the satellites have some on-board propulsion.

The market for smallsat launchers isn't bulk launching of constellations (unless you're talking very tiny satellites such that even smallsat launchers can cluster them), it's for unique payloads and for on-demand replacement of satellite in a constellation in between bulk launches.

That's probably not a market big enough for all these smallsat companies to survive without dramatically changing their business model.

I think Masten has the best chance, actually.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 10/28/2016 07:18 PM
You've both misunderstood what I meant by "rideshare".  I don't mean as a secondary payload on a launch of a big satellite.
Rideshare is rideshare as used by the community (https://www.sprsa.org/), dedicated rideshare is dedicated rideshare (http://www.satmagazine.com/story.php?number=1361246732).

Quote
Spaceflight Services already has such a flight booked on a Falcon 9 with its Sherpa dispenser and plans to fly such flights regularly.
One datapoint is not a trend. To the best of my knowledge, SpaceFlight has not talked about their intended cadence. Note that the first contract was announced more than a year ago.

Quote
Anyway, secondary payloads on launches of large satellites are also a thing.  Not all large satellites are going to GEO, and the idea that the Samsung battery issue will change any of that is just silly.  Everyone already knew that batteries can explode.  Yes, if you want to ride with a big satellite you can't just put a cell phone in a cubesat on a whim.  But at $5 million a pop for an Electron launch, RL is out of the price range of the cell-phone-in-a-cubesat crowd.
I gave you an example of extreme case of multiple payload integration concerns, there are plenty, and these aren't exclusive to big payload co-manifesting either. A large launch is a large launch representing correspondingly large total financial risk. Nobody can afford shortcuts and much experimentation there.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 10/28/2016 08:51 PM
You've both misunderstood what I meant by "rideshare".  I don't mean as a secondary payload on a launch of a big satellite.
Rideshare is rideshare as used by the community (https://www.sprsa.org/), dedicated rideshare is dedicated rideshare (http://www.satmagazine.com/story.php?number=1361246732).

We could debate the meanings of words, but what's the point?  Whether the misunderstanding was your fault or mine, the fact is that you misunderstood and so your responses didn't address what I was actually talking about.

Quote
Spaceflight Services already has such a flight booked on a Falcon 9 with its Sherpa dispenser and plans to fly such flights regularly.
One datapoint is not a trend. To the best of my knowledge, SpaceFlight has not talked about their intended cadence. Note that the first contract was announced more than a year ago.

Obviously, the flight rate will depend on demand.

If there's a lot of demand for launches of small payloads, there will be lots of dedicated flights.  If there's not much demand, Electron will fly only infrequently and Rocket Lab won't be able to succeed.  Either way, it's bad for Rocket Lab.

Quote
Anyway, secondary payloads on launches of large satellites are also a thing.  Not all large satellites are going to GEO, and the idea that the Samsung battery issue will change any of that is just silly.  Everyone already knew that batteries can explode.  Yes, if you want to ride with a big satellite you can't just put a cell phone in a cubesat on a whim.  But at $5 million a pop for an Electron launch, RL is out of the price range of the cell-phone-in-a-cubesat crowd.
I gave you an example of extreme case of multiple payload integration concerns, there are plenty, and these aren't exclusive to big payload co-manifesting either. A large launch is a large launch representing correspondingly large total financial risk. Nobody can afford shortcuts and much experimentation there.

You're failing to address my point, which is that Electron isn't an option for shortcuts and experimentation either.  It's $5 million per launch!

If you want to experiment with small satellites, it's much cheaper to spend a few thousand dollars on space-rated power systems than use a cheap cell phone battery but pay $5 million for the launch.

Spaceflight Services has signed up lots and lots of customers, both for secondary payloads and for dedicated shared flights, so obviously the requirements for safety on these flights are not overly burdensome -- not worth $5 million to avoid.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 10/28/2016 09:29 PM
A lot of the RL launches are actually ride shares, look their on line booking system.

The will also be private missions with surplus capacity. The customer may allow ride share on these flights, would reduce their launch costs.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Davidthefat on 10/28/2016 09:45 PM
If you go the ride share route on the Electron, it starts at $70k a cubesat according to the website. And RL is almost fully booked till 2019. Even if Electron doesn't launch as many times per year as predicted, it still has contracts till the foreseeable future.

Look at STP 2, a mission within the DoD rideshare program. They were originally supposed to launch in 2012? 2013? Now it seems mid to late 2017.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 10/28/2016 09:49 PM
Look at STP 2, a mission within the DoD rideshare program. They were originally supposed to launch in 2012? 2013? Now it seems mid to late 2017.
And now think about knock-on effects and opportunity costs of not flying things like DSAC and GPIM 5 years earlier.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 10/30/2016 02:38 AM
Nice pics of the launch site progress

Rocket Labs Launch Site, Onenui Station, Mahia Peninsula, NZ - 5/6/16
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/27472156065

Rocket Labs Launch Complex 1, Mahia Peninsula, Hawkes Bay, NZ - 21/10/16
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/29848743024/

Found from https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

EDIT: full album of all the shots (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157673767011290)

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 10/30/2016 04:55 AM
Cool photos, just need LV on the pad even if it is just ground tests.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 11/02/2016 11:44 PM
Doesn't Electron have an option for a 3rd stage kick motor? Are the payload capability figures all considered with the utilization of the optional motor?
I haven't read anything about a 3rd stage option. It would allow for earth escape of smallsats  or cubesats. Moon express could use modified version of their lander as 3rd stage.

Here link regard 3rd stage kicker. Not sure about electric one, but make senses if performance increases that Vector plan to get from their one is valid.
http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau/electron.htm


Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Skyrocket on 11/02/2016 11:59 PM
Doesn't Electron have an option for a 3rd stage kick motor? Are the payload capability figures all considered with the utilization of the optional motor?
I haven't read anything about a 3rd stage option. It would allow for earth escape of smallsats  or cubesats. Moon express could use modified version of their lander as 3rd stage.

Here link regard 3rd stage kicker. Not sure about electric one, but make senses if performance increases that Vector plan to get from their one is valid.
http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau/electron.htm

Here is an illustration of the payload and stage 3 from the RocketLab website. Clearly a solid fuel stage.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 11/10/2016 08:53 AM
Here is an illustration of the payload and stage 3 from the RocketLab website. Clearly a solid fuel stage.

According to this environmental impact statement:-

http://www.mfe.govt.nz/sites/default/files/media/Extra%20downloads/Source%20file/space-launch-vehicle-discussion-doc.docx

...there is no mention of a 3rd stage motor, and there are no explosive elements on board i.e. solid fuels.

Maybe they use the high viscosity fuel they invented, the Viscous Liquid Monopropellent? Or maybe that is an option they have not yet developed?

Here are the stage dimensions and masses from the same document:-

(http://i.imgur.com/5TLGlLA.jpg)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Skyrocket on 11/10/2016 10:23 AM
This Rocket Lab presentation of July 2019 mentions the "Apogee Kick Motor" (page 8 ), but gives no details.

http://usgif.org/system/uploads/4606/original/ROCKET_LAB_INTRO_USGIF.pdf
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: orulz on 11/10/2016 02:02 PM
I like the idea of a VLM third stage. It is a pretty interesting and promising technology. The patent application can be found here: http://www.google.com/patents/US20120234196 
The chemistry of it all is way beyond me but they claim comparable performance to solids, full restartability, and what appears to be a better safety profile than many solids. Interestingly it includes lots of methods for pressurizing the tank, such as a hydraulic or electrical piston, a separate gas generator, tapping some of gases from the combustion chamber, or a separate turbopump (maybe electrical, like the Rutherford?)

I have seen no claims regarding performance, ie specific impulse, of this propellant but to me it seems ideally suited to the job of an apogee kick motor. All in all, an excellent tool for Rocket Lab to have in their toolbox.

Sent from my LGL44VL using Tapatalk

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 11/10/2016 04:49 PM
I like the idea of a VLM third stage. It is a pretty interesting and promising technology. The patent application can be found here: http://www.google.com/patents/US20120234196 
The chemistry of it all is way beyond me but they claim comparable performance to solids, full restartability, and what appears to be a better safety profile than many solids. Interestingly it includes lots of methods for pressurizing the tank, such as a hydraulic or electrical piston, a separate gas generator, tapping some of gases from the combustion chamber, or a separate turbopump (maybe electrical, like the Rutherford?)

I have seen no claims regarding performance, ie specific impulse, of this propellant but to me it seems ideally suited to the job of an apogee kick motor. All in all, an excellent tool for Rocket Lab to have in their toolbox.

Sent from my LGL44VL using Tapatalk
Multiply restarts would make it ideal for deploying lots of cubesats, which most missions will involve.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 11/10/2016 06:05 PM
This Rocket Lab presentation of July 2019 mentions the "Apogee Kick Motor" (page 8 ), but gives no details.

Yes, I agree there is clearly an engine, at least planned, it's just not clear what type.

I guess if it was solid they would need a whole bunch of approvals for handling that material and (potentially) dumping it in the ocean, same with most hypergolics.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Vultur on 11/12/2016 06:39 AM
I guess if it was solid they would need a whole bunch of approvals for handling that material and (potentially) dumping it in the ocean, same with most hypergolics.

Are solids that bad? I mean, I know nothing about NZ laws, but here in the US hobbyists use APCP motors and it's not that big a deal.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 11/12/2016 06:59 AM
I guess if it was solid they would need a whole bunch of approvals for handling that material and (potentially) dumping it in the ocean, same with most hypergolics.

Are solids that bad? I mean, I know nothing about NZ laws, but here in the US hobbyists use APCP motors and it's not that big a deal.
It's mostly that in that scale and class they are quite a pain to store securely, handle safely, transport, and ultimately initiate. Disposal is also controlled. Just from the images I have seen of the inside of RL I don't think they are setup to handle those materials, at least not in that facility. If I was them I would stick to liquids - they have knowledge and experience and it's a lot less heavily controlled - kerosene and lox are readily available and don't need the same kind of licenses.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Galactic Penguin SST on 11/12/2016 07:10 AM
So the million dollar question (TM): what works do they still need to do before they can stage an actual launch? It doesn't look like they can even do a static test fire yet and looking at SpaceX's experience of F1 it doesn't look like they can fly within the next 4-6 months. Probably not later than that though.  ;)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 11/12/2016 08:50 AM
So the million dollar question (TM): what works do they still need to do before they can stage an actual launch? It doesn't look like they can even do a static test fire yet and looking at SpaceX's experience of F1 it doesn't look like they can fly within the next 4-6 months. Probably not later than that though.  ;)

Well I had a long list of things a couple of months ago:

If you look at what happened to Super Strypi and Falcon 1, a first failure with payload, while expected, leads to a dummy payload until the vehicle proves itself. Rocket Lab are the best of the bunch IMHO, and far ahead, but progress always slows down when you get to the actual launches.

Firstly, getting the first one off the ground ALWAYS takes longer. Right now I think they will be lucky to get even a sub-orb away before early 2017, based on progress of the launch site and subsystems. We are in August November already and they are showing fairing sep tests and launch site in a semi-finished state - while still saying "end of the year". It slips and slips, but this is normal.

Secondly there is almost certainly going to be a failure during early launches for one reason or another. That will lead to literally months if not years of delays while they analyze what went wrong and re-engineer and test the problem. This is what kills cashflow, as customers and investor dry up at this point, so making sure you have a full bank account prior to launch 1 is crucial. This consideration also is a factor in management decision to go/no go - it is a calculated risk based on readiness and cash.

They clearly want to launch in the antipodean Summer time - circa Dec-March, 3-4-5 months from now - but honestly I doubt they will make that, because all the usual human stuff like school summer holidays in December/Jan in Aus/NZ and just because they are not close enough to ready I think.

And that then pushes them out into New Zealand autumn and winter; the issue then is weather, as Mahia gets 70+ days a year with wind gusts above 63 kph, which is a Force 8 gale, most of them in autumn, spring and winter ie., March-November  (https://www.niwa.co.nz/static/Hawkes%20Bay%20WEB.pdf pp15-17).

Even if you say your rocket handles significant loads, I think we can all agree that F8 gales - probably plus rain/sleet/snow, as the minimum monthly temps in winter are sub-zero degrees C - are not good launch conditions. So if you then struggle to find a good launch window, you are hanging almost another year until Southern spring/summer 2017...

Anyway, I think again they are the most advanced and complete of the pack, but it's a long way from looking like a rocket to flying like one. I would put my money on late 2017 launch.


Plus I add to this:

They do not yet have an FAA range ops licence or launch licence. Their range is an FAA-controlled US range, even though in New Zealand:

(http://i.imgur.com/7pMESaw.png)

I'm not sure what they plan, probably suborbital initally, but they need a couple of permits, and there is nothing in the FAA database as yet. Also no NOTAMs in the ICAO database for that area.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: rocx on 11/13/2016 11:36 AM
There has just been a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in New Zealand. It appears to be not very close to the launch site, but it might disrupt some logistics. I hope the people and government of New Zealand will be able to deal with this earthquake and its effects.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: docmordrid on 11/13/2016 03:50 PM
There was also a tsunami warning so more info is needed.

http://news.trust.org/item/20161113113702-re5f9
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 11/13/2016 05:00 PM
The epicentre is far south from there
 
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37967178
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Alf Fass on 11/13/2016 08:07 PM
Wellington suffered a little damage, but nothing much north of there, I'd be very surprised if Rocket Lab operations were affected at all.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 11/16/2016 08:47 PM
I wonder if RL have picked up some of Firefly propulsion team, great way to get some aerospike and methane engine knowledge.
A methane aerospike power LV would be great follow on to Electron.  Firefly switched to RP1 as methane wouldn't work without turbopump, an area RL are experts in. 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Toast on 11/16/2016 09:17 PM
I wonder if RL have picked up some of Firefly propulsion team, great way to get some aerospike and methane engine knowledge.

If I was RocketLab, I'd steer clear of hiring any Firefly engineers to work on aerospike development, as that's a big part of the IP case that Virgin has filed against Markusic:

Quote
According to the Complaint, Galactic hired Markusic in 2011 as its VP of Propulsion. Markusic’s role gave him intimate knowledge of the Company’s research into liquid rocket propulsion, space vehicle architecture, “aerospike” technology, and other confidential projects. (https://www.crowelltradesecretstrends.com/2016/10/space-race-starts-anew-as-virgin-galactic-files-trade-secrets-claims-against-rival/)

Best to steer clear of that mess until the dust settles. RocketLab is in a good position right now without the need to worry about developing any additional propulsion technologies anyways, so it makes sense to just stay the course.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Davidthefat on 11/16/2016 10:36 PM
I wonder if RL have picked up some of Firefly propulsion team, great way to get some aerospike and methane engine knowledge.
A methane aerospike power LV would be great follow on to Electron.  Firefly switched to RP1 as methane wouldn't work without turbopump, an area RL are experts in. 

Peter Beck, the CEO of Rocket Lab, has been quoted several times in interviews that the Electron will be the focus of the company. No, "Electron Plus", "Electron Heavy", "Neutron", or any variations of the Electron launch vehicle. The focus is reliability, cost reduction, and volume of production of the existing single core launch vehicle.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 11/17/2016 12:37 AM
Plus, people would have to move from Austin to Auckland. Small difference there.

There is another smallsat launcher company keenly interested in aerospike engines though (http://vectorspacesystems.com/blog/2016/11/8/failure-is-the-seed-of-growth-for-success-lessons-learned-from-developing-and-testing-aerospike-rocket-engines)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: high road on 11/17/2016 06:58 AM
I wonder if RL have picked up some of Firefly propulsion team, great way to get some aerospike and methane engine knowledge.
A methane aerospike power LV would be great follow on to Electron.  Firefly switched to RP1 as methane wouldn't work without turbopump, an area RL are experts in. 

Peter Beck, the CEO of Rocket Lab, has been quoted several times in interviews that the Electron will be the focus of the company. No, "Electron Plus", "Electron Heavy", "Neutron", or any variations of the Electron launch vehicle. The focus is reliability, cost reduction, and volume of production of the existing single core launch vehicle.

And even if it wasn't, they'd better get this one flying before they start working on the next model. Get experience with actually launching stuff to space, get some cashflow going, then check if there is room for a whole other development programme. I can't think of any circumstance where it would make sense to do this now instead of when the first development programme has ended (successfully or otherwise)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Nilof on 11/19/2016 12:19 PM
I don't think methane would benefit rocketlabs, at all. It does not compare well to RP-1 unless you are using it as the working fluid in a turbopump. You could get five or so extra seconds or so of ISP at the expense of a lower fuel density and having to work with a cryogenic fuel. In fact, it might actually decrease ISP if you keep the same batteries because you need more pump power to pump the less dense fuel to the same chamber pressure.

As far as LOX/Hydrocarbon engines go, choice of engine cycle and chamber pressure is a much bigger factor in performance than choice of propellant.

I also don't really see an areospike being much of a benefit on a two-stage vehicle with pump-fed engines. The Rutherford engine has a great specific impulse already, it isn't handicaped by low chamber pressures like pressure-fed engines. The possible improvements to first stage specific impulse are probably not worth the decrease in total thrust due to not being able to fit an engine in the middle.

First stage total thrust is the most important performance factor for a first stage by far, moreso than first stage ISP at sea level. With the same mass ratio and high-altitude Isp, a 10% increase in liftoff thrust can increase the payload more than say a 10% increase in SL Isp. Increasing liftoff T/W ratio from say 1.3 to 1.4 gives the same improvement in fuel efficiency as increasing the Isp during liftoff by 33%.

Imho, the main reason to use an aerospike is because you are forced to due to low chamber pressures, usually because your engine is pressure-fed.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 11/19/2016 03:26 PM
I don't think methane would benefit rocketlabs, at all. It does not compare well to RP-1 unless you are using it as the working fluid in a turbopump. You could get five or so extra seconds or so of ISP at the expense of a lower fuel density and having to work with a cryogenic fuel. In fact, it might actually decrease ISP if you keep the same batteries because you need more pump power to pump the less dense fuel to the same chamber pressure.

As far as LOX/Hydrocarbon engines go, choice of engine cycle and chamber pressure is a much bigger factor in performance than choice of propellant.

I also don't really see an areospike being much of a benefit on a two-stage vehicle with pump-fed engines. The Rutherford engine has a great specific impulse already, it isn't handicaped by low chamber pressures like pressure-fed engines. The possible improvements to first stage specific impulse are probably not worth the decrease in total thrust due to not being able to fit an engine in the middle.

First stage total thrust is the most important performance factor for a first stage by far, moreso than first stage ISP at sea level. With the same mass ratio and high-altitude Isp, a 10% increase in liftoff thrust can increase the payload more than say a 10% increase in SL Isp. Increasing liftoff T/W ratio from say 1.3 to 1.4 gives the same improvement in fuel efficiency as increasing the Isp during liftoff by 33%.

Imho, the main reason to use an aerospike is because you are forced to due to low chamber pressures, usually because your engine is pressure-fed.
Excellent response. Thanks.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: msat on 11/21/2016 05:58 PM
If you go the ride share route on the Electron, it starts at $70k a cubesat according to the website.

How does this work out? 5,000,000/70,000 = ~71
Since I doubt they'll be able to stuff 70 cubesats in the fairing, that cost seems like an arbitrary figure for a ride share on a rocket with probably one larger payload. How often would such a launch option manifest itself?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: LtWigglesworth on 11/21/2016 06:14 PM
If you go the ride share route on the Electron, it starts at $70k a cubesat according to the website.

How does this work out? 5,000,000/70,000 = ~71
Since I doubt they'll be able to stuff 70 cubesats in the fairing, that cost seems like an arbitrary figure for a ride share on a rocket with probably one larger payload. How often would such a launch option manifest itself?

According to the booking page on their website they can fit 24 3U cubesats and 8 1U cubesats in a standard fairing.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Comga on 11/21/2016 06:19 PM
If you go the ride share route on the Electron, it starts at $70k a cubesat according to the website.

How does this work out? 5,000,000/70,000 = ~71
Since I doubt they'll be able to stuff 70 cubesats in the fairing, that cost seems like an arbitrary figure for a ride share on a rocket with probably one larger payload. How often would such a launch option manifest itself?

According to the booking page on their website they can fit 24 3U cubesats and 8 1U cubesats in a standard fairing.

24*3=72 so they might have meant $70K per U if they price by mass or volume.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Davidthefat on 11/21/2016 07:56 PM
Is it just me or does the rocketlab website appear to be down right now?


Edit: it seems I was unlucky enough to trying to access it while they were updating it.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 11/22/2016 12:09 AM
There has just been a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in New Zealand. It appears to be not very close to the launch site, but it might disrupt some logistics. I hope the people and government of New Zealand will be able to deal with this earthquake and its effects.

The latest one is a little closer to their operations, but on the opposite side of the country.  Must be earthquake season!

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-22/earthquake-hits-new-zealand-north-island/8045512
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: LtWigglesworth on 11/22/2016 12:22 AM
Is it just me or does the rocketlab website appear to be down right now?


Edit: it seems I was unlucky enough to trying to access it while they were updating it.

They've also changed the booking pages. Now they offer 6U and 12U slots.

They've also put up videos about the VLM and Instant Eyes programs
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: c4fusion on 11/22/2016 10:33 PM
They've also changed the booking pages. Now they offer 6U and 12U slots.

They've also put up videos about the VLM and Instant Eyes programs

Additionally they have added an option for an elliptical orbit with perigee at 180km and apogee at 350+ km with much higher mass to orbit (in neighborhood of 220 kg).  Of course, I am not sure how useful an orbit with such a low perigee is...
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Davidthefat on 11/22/2016 11:36 PM
Looks like test launch is moved to early 2017.

http://gisborneherald.co.nz/localnews/2564230-135/rocket-lab-test-flights-delayed

Also to note: Rocket  Lab doubled the size of the team.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 11/23/2016 01:26 AM
Looks like test launch is moved to early 2017.

Makes sense.. The biggest beef with the locals would be:

Quote
Ms Moreau-Hammond said further details about road closures would be available in the coming weeks but there would be no closures this year.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 11/23/2016 04:17 AM
Quote
Rocket Lab media spokeswoman Catherine Moreau-Hammond said the team had worked tirelessly this year, and with the holidays fast approaching they felt it best to allow everyone a decent break.
Sounds like a good company to work for.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 11/23/2016 05:52 AM
Quote
Rocket Lab media spokeswoman Catherine Moreau-Hammond said the team had worked tirelessly this year, and with the holidays fast approaching they felt it best to allow everyone a decent break.
Sounds like a good company to work for.

As I said some months ago:-

They clearly want to launch in the antipodean Summer time - circa Dec-March, 3-4-5 months from now - but honestly I doubt they will make that, because all the usual human stuff like school summer holidays in December/Jan in Aus/NZ and just because they are not close enough to ready I think.

The reason this was obvious is that the December holiday is not just like the normal few days for Christmas; in Aus/NZ it is like the long school summer holiday in the Northern hemisphere. Kids are off school for 6 weeks from mid-December to end of January, with new school year starting 1 February.

So IMHO, if they take off that period, there is no chance they will be launching in February, just because people need to get back up to speed after a long break, and probably not even March for similar reasons. Add in all the complexities of a first launch - all the things this company has never done before, despite their rapid progress in R&D, all the approvals and regulatory hurdles, systems integration, the entire range procedure.... with the best possible will it's easy to see slippage of 3+ months. And then we are into antipodean Autumn and Winter.

I still think we will see a flight around September 2017.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 11/23/2016 06:21 AM
There is also a payload user guide available (if you ask):-

http://rocketlabusa.com/launch/rideshare/ (http://rocketlabusa.com/launch/rideshare/)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 11/23/2016 08:14 AM
Quote
Rocket Lab media spokeswoman Catherine Moreau-Hammond said the team had worked tirelessly this year, and with the holidays fast approaching they felt it best to allow everyone a decent break.
Sounds like a good company to work for.

As I said some months ago:-

They clearly want to launch in the antipodean Summer time - circa Dec-March, 3-4-5 months from now - but honestly I doubt they will make that, because all the usual human stuff like school summer holidays in December/Jan in Aus/NZ and just because they are not close enough to ready I think.

The reason this was obvious is that the December holiday is not just like the normal few days for Christmas; in Aus/NZ it is like the long school summer holiday in the Northern hemisphere. Kids are off school for 6 weeks from mid-December to end of January, with new school year starting 1 February.

So IMHO, if they take off that period, there is no chance they will be launching in February, just because people need to get back up to speed after a long break, and probably not even March for similar reasons. Add in all the complexities of a first launch - all the things this company has never done before, despite their rapid progress in R&D, all the approvals and regulatory hurdles, systems integration, the entire range procedure.... with the best possible will it's easy to see slippage of 3+ months. And then we are into antipodean Autumn and Winter.

I still think we will see a flight around September 2017.
More likely Feb-Mar. Given how important the first launches are they may not allow any leave in Feb-Apr time frame.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Proponent on 11/23/2016 11:32 AM
Additionally they have added an option for an elliptical orbit with perigee at 180km and apogee at 350+ km with much higher mass to orbit (in neighborhood of 220 kg).  Of course, I am not sure how useful an orbit with such a low perigee is...

My guess is that a payload to such an orbit would likely have its own apogee kick motor.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: imprezive on 11/23/2016 08:33 PM
Does anyone know what they do in Huntington Beach? It seems like the lion's share of their work would be in NZ.

edit: Answered my own question. Avionics/Guidance/Electronics and Propulsion are done in the US and Composite Structures and Integration are done in NZ.

http://commons.erau.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3642&context=space-congress-proceedings
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 11/23/2016 09:23 PM
Did anybody else notice the dimensions on the vehicle have changed?

Initial: 18m x 1m on 2014 website (simple cyclinder = 56m3 vol)

Was: 16m x 1.2m on old website (simple cyclindrr = 60m3 vol)

Now: 17m x 1.2m on new one (simple cylinder = 64m3 vol)

Assuming the nosecone has not changed, that is a big move, about 4 cubic meters of volume, presumably extra tankage for more fuel.

Also the price point isn't US$4.9M. Add up all the cubesats in a payload and it is more like US$6.5M.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: msat on 11/24/2016 12:03 PM
If you go the ride share route on the Electron, it starts at $70k a cubesat according to the website.

How does this work out? 5,000,000/70,000 = ~71
Since I doubt they'll be able to stuff 70 cubesats in the fairing, that cost seems like an arbitrary figure for a ride share on a rocket with probably one larger payload. How often would such a launch option manifest itself?

According to the booking page on their website they can fit 24 3U cubesats and 8 1U cubesats in a standard fairing.

I should have done a little research before deciding to mash away at the keyboard.  I just looked at the fairing pics and got the impression that it was too small to house that many cubesats. Thanks for the correction!


Unrelated to the above, I'd love to know about a trade study RocketLab may have performed WRT tank pressurization levels and structural/etc weight costs to reduce turbopump power and battery requirements.

Also curious why they haven't gone with something along the lines of strap on booster-like separable battery packs consisting of a sizable amount of S1's total battery capacity.  Hell, they could even potentially recover them.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: orulz on 11/25/2016 01:09 AM
Probably becausein order to get enough current in order to drive the turbopumps, they have to discharge all the batteries simultaneously. Any system that used batteries sequentially would have a lower sustained maximum current.

Sent from my LGL44VL using Tapatalk

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: msat on 11/25/2016 03:38 AM
Ah, that makes sense. I suppose the LV and payloads they're likely to carry wont require much throttling anyway.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: oiorionsbelt on 11/26/2016 11:16 PM
Hope this latest earthquake didn't affect the launch site. It was centered very close.http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11755611&ref=NZH_FBpage
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 11/27/2016 09:05 PM
Hope this latest earthquake didn't affect the launch site. It was centered very close.http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11755611&ref=NZH_FBpage

Hmm.. You certainly wouldn't want something like that happening in the final few seconds before launch!

(OTOH there'd be a lot more rockin'-and-rollin' than one might experience in Florida)
 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: deptrai on 11/28/2016 07:35 PM
Does anyone know what they do in Huntington Beach? It seems like the lion's share of their work would be in NZ.

edit: Answered my own question. Avionics/Guidance/Electronics and Propulsion are done in the US and Composite Structures and Integration are done in NZ.

http://commons.erau.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3642&context=space-congress-proceedings
Interesting.  Moved in next to the Boeing site (old McDonnell Douglas) where Skylab & upper stage of Atlas V were built.  The Boeing site is closing/moving to El Segundo by 2020.

RL used to have an office (or at least an address) at 6601 Century Dr. W near LAX.  I wonder if that still exists.



Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Kryten on 12/12/2016 03:47 PM
http://rocketlab.co.nz/latest/rocket-lab-completes-final-major-technical-milestone-before-first-test-launches/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBiZqHpZBV4
Quote
Rocket Lab today announced the flight qualification and acceptance of the first stage booster of the Electron launch vehicle.

All primary components of the stage – including engines, vehicle structures, avionics and software systems - were designed, developed and tested in-house at Rocket Lab.

“Rocket Lab has had a hugely successful year with qualification of all major vehicle systems, completion of Launch Complex 1 and considerable growth of our team and customer base,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab CEO.

“We will continue to test the vehicle extensively in the lead-up to commercial operations and are looking forward to beginning the test flight program. Our focus with the Electron has been to develop a reliable launch vehicle that can be manufactured in high volumes – our ultimate goal is to make space accessible by providing an unprecedented frequency of launch opportunities.”

Rocket Lab plans to begin full vehicle testing in early 2017 once international launch licensing is complete. The tests will occur from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1, located on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand.   
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Prober on 12/12/2016 04:03 PM
Congrats RocketLab


an article on some payloads


 

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=33141.msg1616577#msg1616577

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: orulz on 12/12/2016 04:30 PM
Awesome news. Really rooting for these Kiwis to pull it off. This is one of the most exciting things going on in the space launch industry right now. They have the expertise, the funding, and now the hardware to get the job done. Congrats to them.

I wonder if the stage tests they have been conducting are using battery or mains power? Batteries, I hope! It wouldn't be a full systems test if they didn't use batteries.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 12/12/2016 08:02 PM
Good news. Waiting launch license, as usual it is paper work that always takes longest.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 12/12/2016 08:28 PM
Synchronized gimballing at 0:56 - :1:00.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Lars-J on 12/12/2016 10:44 PM
Great progress! :)

But it does look like a shortened 1st stage test article, right? Or is the first stage that short?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: russianhalo117 on 12/12/2016 10:49 PM
Great progress! :)

But it does look like a shortened 1st stage test article, right? Or is the first stage that short?
Electron has a carbon composite structure of 1.2 m diameter and 20 m length. Probably around 12-15 metres for first stage as Rocket Labs doesnt list stage length only total combined length.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Kansan52 on 12/12/2016 11:25 PM
Just great. So looking forward to First Flight!
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Katana on 12/14/2016 02:57 AM
Awesome news. Really rooting for these Kiwis to pull it off. This is one of the most exciting things going on in the space launch industry right now. They have the expertise, the funding, and now the hardware to get the job done. Congrats to them.

I wonder if the stage tests they have been conducting are using battery or mains power? Batteries, I hope! It wouldn't be a full systems test if they didn't use batteries.
Must to use batteries.
Mains cant support that peak power.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 12/14/2016 07:33 AM
But it does look like a shortened 1st stage test article, right? Or is the first stage that short?

That is definitely a short tank, which means they did not do a full mission cycle burn. You can scale it off the helium bottles on the right. Each of those is about 1.4m-1.5m tall, so the entire tank is about 3m-3.5m, about quarter size.

(http://i.imgur.com/y9oCoB3.png)

Electron has a carbon composite structure of 1.2 m diameter and 20 m length. Probably around 12-15 metres for first stage as Rocket Labs doesnt list stage length only total combined length.

Here are the stage dimensions and masses:-

(http://i.imgur.com/5TLGlLA.jpg)

Source: Environmental Impact Statement

http://www.mfe.govt.nz/sites/default/files/media/Extra%20downloads/Source%20file/space-launch-vehicle-discussion-doc.docx
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 12/22/2016 05:52 AM
I found Rocket Lab's engine test sites on Google Earth:

New:

(http://i.imgur.com/aTFiuuW.jpg)

Original:

(http://i.imgur.com/h33I766.jpg)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: RobertoT on 12/22/2016 02:01 PM
Nice find @ringsider  :)
Btw, have anyone from here used a parcel forwarding service like shipw.com (https://www.shipw.com/) to send packages from us to another country? I'm not an us citizen an I want to shop something from amazon us.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jamesh9000 on 12/22/2016 06:51 PM
Yeah, excellent find! What are the coordinates?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Davidthefat on 12/23/2016 04:42 AM
I'm genuinely curious what indications in the pictures point toward those sites being engine test sites. Especially the second one. How did you come to the conclusion those are the test sites?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 01/01/2017 03:37 PM
Job advert at Rocket Lab with some interesting language:-

With the test flights of Rocket Lab's Electron vehicle fast approaching, Rocket Lab has seen continued and growing public interest. This is an incredible opportunity to manage the profile of a company that inspires and excites people globally.

The Communications Manager is responsible for leading Rocket Lab New Zealand's public relations and brand, and meeting the needs and interest of a diverse range of domestic and international stakeholders.
 
This role is based in Auckland with frequent travel to Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 (Mahia, New Zealand) and the United States.
 
ROLE DESCRIPTION
 
Public Relations

Liaise with media and act as company spokesperson
Pitch and place pieces in industry and consumer media
Write op-eds and features
Develop and maintain key relationships
Plan, write and distribute press releases
Crisis management, contingency planning and expectation management
Local Community Engagement - Launch Complex 1
Arrange and present at public information days
Assist members of the public with concerns and questions
Provide ongoing public information
Liaise with businesses and organisations interested in starting tourism initiatives or launch related spin-offs

Government Relations 

Liaise and engage with local and central government
Respond to government queries for information, prepare briefing materials etc.
Represent Rocket Lab on various planning committees and groups as required

Brand Management

Prevent, manage and respond to brand and copyright infringements, coordinate supplier publicity agreements etc.
Social Media, Website and Digital Assets
Create and manage assets and content
Supervise video production and photographic art direction
Manage of social media accounts and strategy
Events, Trade Shows and Exhibits
Plan trade shows and events for both Rocket Lab New Zealand and Rocket Lab USA
Work with museums, education institutes etc.

Marketing Collateral

Plan, write and oversee design of print and digital marketing collateral and materials 
 
REQUIRED SKILLS

Minimum 5 years of experience in communications/public relations
Minimum 1 year of experience as media spokesperson
Experience with digital assets, social media strategies and tactics
Bachelor's degree required

PREFERRED SKILLS & EXPERIENCE
Public relations experience in tech, aerospace or public policy
Exceptional verbal and written communication skills
Ability to grasp complex issues
Natural interest in technology and preferably aerospace
Ability to work independently and quickly in an unsupervised environment 
Discretion and ability to grasp stringent security requirements and commercial sensitivities
Proven skills in establishing and maintaining relationships with wide range of stakeholders
Strong negotiation, critical-thinking and decision making skills
Managerial experience
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 01/05/2017 11:35 PM
And now for something completely different.

http://www.mahiafishingclub.com/assets/Uploads/Rocket-Lab-Public-Info-Jan-2017.pdf

EDIT: also, the website has gotten a slight facelift. With a cool background video
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: gongora on 01/10/2017 08:39 PM
Tweet from Jeff Foust: (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/818928799639306240)
Quote
[Anna] Stark [, NASA Venture Class Launch Services project mgr]: first launch of Electron by Rocket Lab is scheduled for end of this month; NASA VCLS mission will be their 6th, later this year.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 01/10/2017 09:41 PM
Tweet from Jeff Foust: (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/818928799639306240)
Quote
[Anna] Stark [, NASA Venture Class Launch Services project mgr]: first launch of Electron by Rocket Lab is scheduled for end of this month; NASA VCLS mission will be their 6th, later this year.
"Scheduled"...

No licences for launch site or launch, as yet, however:-

https://www.faa.gov/data_research/commercial_space_data/licenses/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: russianhalo117 on 01/10/2017 09:51 PM
Tweet from Jeff Foust: (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/818928799639306240)
Quote
[Anna] Stark [, NASA Venture Class Launch Services project mgr]: first launch of Electron by Rocket Lab is scheduled for end of this month; NASA VCLS mission will be their 6th, later this year.
"Scheduled"...

No licences for launch site or launch, as yet, however:-

https://www.faa.gov/data_research/commercial_space_data/licenses/
Would not the New Zealand launch sites be under the control of New Zealand (https://www.caa.govt.nz/ and http://www.transport.govt.nz/air/) and not the FAA??
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 01/10/2017 10:12 PM
Tweet from Jeff Foust: (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/818928799639306240)
Quote
[Anna] Stark [, NASA Venture Class Launch Services project mgr]: first launch of Electron by Rocket Lab is scheduled for end of this month; NASA VCLS mission will be their 6th, later this year.
"Scheduled"...

No licences for launch site or launch, as yet, however:-

https://www.faa.gov/data_research/commercial_space_data/licenses/
Would not the New Zealand launch sites be under the control of New Zealand (https://www.caa.govt.nz/ and http://www.transport.govt.nz/air/) and not the FAA??
No. It is an FAA launch site under US control (they mention this is one of the slide decks above) and the launcher is US-owned because Rocket Lab is now a US headquartered corporation. Rocket Lab made that decision when it redomiciled. Regulations are all detailed in the TSA.

NZ is introducing new regulations and signed a waiver contract with RL last year as an interim measure to allow launches. But even then, a US-owned rocket will be under US authority, so I expect heavy leaning on the TSA and maybe dual licencing.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: c4fusion on 01/10/2017 10:44 PM
It seems like with the website's update, the ISP of the first stage is finally shown as 303 sec and the ISP of the second stage has been given a slight bump to 333 from 327.  Looks like they are getting a bit more than expected power out of the batteries.

Cheers
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: wardy89 on 01/10/2017 11:16 PM
Tweet from Jeff Foust: (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/818928799639306240)
Quote
[Anna] Stark [, NASA Venture Class Launch Services project mgr]: first launch of Electron by Rocket Lab is scheduled for end of this month; NASA VCLS mission will be their 6th, later this year.

I find this sentence interesting "NASA VCLS mission will be their 6th, later this year"

I know it is a relatively small rocket but isn't 6 launches in the first year being rather optimistic?

It is a good sign though that the fist launch might not to to far away.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Galactic Penguin SST on 01/11/2017 12:23 AM
Tweet from Jeff Foust: (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/818928799639306240)
Quote
[Anna] Stark [, NASA Venture Class Launch Services project mgr]: first launch of Electron by Rocket Lab is scheduled for end of this month; NASA VCLS mission will be their 6th, later this year.
"Scheduled"...

No licences for launch site or launch, as yet, however:-

https://www.faa.gov/data_research/commercial_space_data/licenses/

I find this very hard to believe with no actual progress seen on their 1st actual launch campaign.
A successful WDR or static fire in launch configuration on the actual pad would go a long way as to proving their readiness. Until then.....  ::)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 01/11/2017 12:50 AM
I find this very hard to believe with no actual progress seen on their 1st actual launch campaign.
A successful WDR or static fire in launch configuration on the actual pad would go a long way as to proving their readiness. Until then.....  ::)

Hmm... Given their current level of readiness, I have some faith that they could possibly carry off a *test* launch by the end of the month.  This isn't exactly a Falcon 9 remember, it's more in the "big amateur" category.. and given the number they have in build (we've seen 3 in some photos) six launches this year isn't out of the question either.

..but the underlying assumption is that the first and subsequent launches will ALL be a resounding success and hit the target right on the money, and as we all know (and SpaceX testify) "Space is Hard".

..but Peter Beck is also an optimist.  :)

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Galactic Penguin SST on 01/11/2017 01:31 AM
I find this very hard to believe with no actual progress seen on their 1st actual launch campaign.
A successful WDR or static fire in launch configuration on the actual pad would go a long way as to proving their readiness. Until then.....  ::)

Hmm... Given their current level of readiness, I have some faith that they could possibly carry off a *test* launch by the end of the month.  This isn't exactly a Falcon 9 remember, it's more in the "big amateur" category.. and given the number they have in build (we've seen 3 in some photos) six launches this year isn't out of the question either.

..but the underlying assumption is that the first and subsequent launches will ALL be a resounding success and hit the target right on the money, and as we all know (and SpaceX testify) "Space is Hard".

..but Peter Beck is also an optimist.  :)

I was more thinking about the road to the 1st launch of the Falcon 1 - lots of issues popped out close to launch back then. RL probably won't have to suffer from that much of delays as SpaceX did (was it really delayed by a year back in 2005-6?  :o) but lots of things still seems to be yet to be done so.....  ::)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: gongora on 01/11/2017 02:24 AM
I find this very hard to believe with no actual progress seen on their 1st actual launch campaign.
A successful WDR or static fire in launch configuration on the actual pad would go a long way as to proving their readiness. Until then.....  ::)

Hmm... Given their current level of readiness, I have some faith that they could possibly carry off a *test* launch by the end of the month.  This isn't exactly a Falcon 9 remember, it's more in the "big amateur" category.. and given the number they have in build (we've seen 3 in some photos) six launches this year isn't out of the question either.

..but the underlying assumption is that the first and subsequent launches will ALL be a resounding success and hit the target right on the money, and as we all know (and SpaceX testify) "Space is Hard".

..but Peter Beck is also an optimist.  :)

I was more thinking about the road to the 1st launch of the Falcon 1 - lots of issues popped out close to launch back then. RL probably won't have to suffer from that much of delays as SpaceX did (was it really delayed by a year back in 2005-6?  :o) but lots of things still seems to be yet to be done so.....  ::)

You are correct  ;D

A followup tweet from Jeff Foust: (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/819016450300055555)
Quote
Rocket Lab tells me “no test this month but we’re certainly getting close.”
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 01/11/2017 03:30 AM
A followup tweet from Jeff Foust: (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/819016450300055555)
Quote
Rocket Lab tells me “no test this month but we’re certainly getting close.”

So they're not quite as close as I thought they were?.. bummer.

Reminds me of what the mechanic said last time I went to pick up the car: "No sir, your car isn't ready yet - but we're working on it."  :(
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 01/11/2017 05:18 AM
A followup tweet from Jeff Foust: (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/819016450300055555)
Quote
Rocket Lab tells me “no test this month but we’re certainly getting close.”

So they're not quite as close as I thought they were?.. bummer.

Reminds me of what the mechanic said last time I went to pick up the car: "No sir, your car isn't ready yet - but we're working on it."  :(
My money is still on circa September for a full orbital attempt.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 01/11/2017 10:53 PM
My money is still on circa September for a full orbital attempt.

You'd put money on a set date for a platform that hasn't got to static fire, leave alone demonstrated to leave the pad without vanishing in a ball of flame?!??

Oh boy, have I got some schemes investment opportunities for you!  ;D
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/11/2017 10:55 PM
I think "attempt" is the operative word, there.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: DatUser14 on 01/11/2017 11:03 PM
My money is still on circa September for a full orbital attempt.

You'd put money on a set date for a platform that hasn't got to static fire, leave alone demonstrated to leave the pad without vanishing in a ball of flame?!??

Oh boy, have I got some schemes investment opportunities for you!  ;D
Rocket Lab has static fired the Electron first stage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBiZqHpZBV4

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Davidthefat on 01/11/2017 11:05 PM
My money is still on circa September for a full orbital attempt.

You'd put money on a set date for a platform that hasn't got to static fire, leave alone demonstrated to leave the pad without vanishing in a ball of flame?!??

Oh boy, have I got some schemes investment opportunities for you!  ;D
Rocket Lab has static fired the Electron first stage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBiZqHpZBV4



I think his concern was that the Electron didn't go through a full up static fire like SpaceX does. Like with the second stage mated with the first. Although, I don't think any launch vehicle does full up static tests like SpaceX does. Someone can correct me on that if I'm wrong.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 01/12/2017 12:33 AM
I think his concern was that the Electron didn't go through a full up static fire like SpaceX does. Like with the second stage mated with the first. Although, I don't think any launch vehicle does full up static tests like SpaceX does. Someone can correct me on that if I'm wrong.

I must admit that I'd forgotten they'd qualified their first stage design.. but that's still a long way from static fire of a complete rocket assembly (with it's associated vibration analysis, etc.) leave alone launch of anything higher than the launch pad.

They say they're only weeks away from a first launch, but IF (a) that's successful and (b) it's true that they plan at least six launches a year, I would think they'll be wanting to make an orbital attempt a lot sooner than September..

.. but then I also think it's far too early to bet on it. :)

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 01/12/2017 03:31 AM
I'm betting they will make a first attempt in Q1. And the next one not more than 3 month after - i don't think they are funded at levels where they can afford to wait, or not hit a particular cadence fairly quickly. How successful these attempts can be, is a completely different matter.

MVR = minimum viable rocket
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 01/12/2017 05:04 AM
I think "attempt" is the operative word, there.
Indeed.

We should setup a little table of who backs which date for a full first orbital launch attempt.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Danderman on 01/12/2017 05:55 AM
I guess "all up" testing is a thing now, but it would seem more prudent to test just the first stage, and if possible, in another test, the second stage as a stand-alone minus the nozzle extension.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Kabloona on 01/12/2017 01:19 PM
Good for them. Around the :50 mark, the nozzles can be seen gimballing in unison, so they were testing the TVC system(s) as would be expected in a stage qual test.

And, a recent WSJ article:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/welcome-to-new-zealand-gateway-to-outer-space-1483982532

At least they didn't call Peter Beck a "space nut" and torpedo his upcoming IPO (if he had one). NewSpace not so nutty any more...except for the legislator singing "Rocket Man" in Parliament.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 01/12/2017 09:59 PM
And, a recent WSJ article:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/welcome-to-new-zealand-gateway-to-outer-space-1483982532

At least they didn't call Peter Beck a "space nut" and torpedo his upcoming IPO (if he had one). NewSpace not so nutty any more...except for the legislator singing "Rocket Man" in Parliament.

Yeah..

Quote
"We went to all the launch ranges in America,” said Peter Beck, a wiry-haired engineer who a decade ago founded Calif.-based aerospace company Rocket Lab....

Whilst not incorrect AIUI, after watching RL develop from the sidelines almost from the very start, the way that's worded kinda grates for some reason.  Probably because there were very good reasons this is happening in NZ that didn't quite make that article ...(or at least not the bit that can be accessed without subscription). :( 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 01/13/2017 04:21 AM
Whilst not incorrect AIUI, after watching RL develop from the sidelines almost from the very start, the way that's worded kinda grates for some reason.  Probably because there were very good reasons this is happening in NZ that didn't quite make that article ...(or at least not the bit that can be accessed without subscription). :( 

Enter the link in Google and then click the Google link. That gives you full access.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 01/13/2017 04:48 AM
Whilst not incorrect AIUI, after watching RL develop from the sidelines almost from the very start, the way that's worded kinda grates for some reason.  Probably because there were very good reasons this is happening in NZ that didn't quite make that article ...(or at least not the bit that can be accessed without subscription). :( 

Enter the link in Google and then click the Google link. That gives you full access.

Didn't know about that little trick.. thanks!

Reading the remainder of the article, it does redeem itself rather quickly.. in all, just a good read. :)
 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 01/13/2017 07:34 AM
Quote
...Others are a touch underwhelmed, being more attuned over the years to other legendary exploits along the coast here. Mahia is where the folkloric Maori hero Maui is said to have punched himself in the nose to draw blood and lure a fish that turned out to be New Zealand’s North Island.

“I have been to Cape Canaveral to see a rocket go up once,” said Pauline Tangiora, a Maori elder from Mahia’s Rongomaiwahine Tribe. “It didn’t impress me at all.”

I laughed.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: orulz on 01/13/2017 05:31 PM

Quote
"We went to all the launch ranges in America,” said Peter Beck, a wiry-haired engineer who a decade ago founded Calif.-based aerospace company Rocket Lab....


Whilst not incorrect AIUI, after watching RL develop from the sidelines almost from the very start, the way that's worded kinda grates for some reason.  Probably because there were very good reasons this is happening in NZ that didn't quite make that article ...(or at least not the bit that can be accessed without subscription). :( 


What the article says may be more true than you think. Rocket Lab probably set out to be a more conventional rocket company, making rockets but not owning and operating their own private launch range. After all, getting all the ducks in a row in order to operate a range is in many ways a distraction from their primary mission which is to build rockets to launch their customers' payloads into space. Go to Canaveral or Vandenberg or Wallops or Kodiak and you can more or less pay somebody else to do it for you instead.


Except, at some point along the line they realized they couldn't make their vision of frequent and rapid launches work within the framework of traditional space, since none of the traditional ranges can support that many launches. I think I read somewhere that Canaveral is cleared for up to 48 launches in 2017. Seems like a lot, but when you split it between all the companies and rocket families using the facilities it starts to seem quite limiting if there is to be growth in the launch market.


Not to mention, at $5 million per launch, in a place like Canaveral, the cost of securing the range probably becomes a pretty substantial percentage of the total cost of the launch.


This whole business kind of reminds me of how Elon Musk never really set out to actually build rockets. Plan A was to use Russian ICBMs to launch a small greenhouse to Mars to get people more interested in space exploration and get NASA's exploration budget increased. Bureaucracy, regulation, and good old fashioned cultural barriers got in the way of the plan to buy missiles from Russia. That was the inception of Plan B, building his own rocket. The rest is history.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jamesh9000 on 01/14/2017 06:30 AM
So I was having a snoop around to see if I could find out what was discussed at those "public information sessions" mentioned on the previous page, and a number of people were also enquiring about it on FB. Rocketlab replied:
Quote
Hello! Thanks for all the interest in the meeting. To clarify, these sessions are part of an ongoing series that have been held at Mokotahi Hall for local residents. They’re primarily focussed on local operations and logistics. Much of the information is likely not of interest to the general public. No major new information is being discussed. Public updates will continue to come through – we just like to keep in touch with our neighbours! Thanks

So, yeah. Probably nothing super interesting for anyone who doesn't live there. I imagine they weren't giving out hard dates for anything.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 01/14/2017 10:08 AM
This is about Moon Express but some info on Rocket Lab.

http://spacenews.com/moon-express-fully-funded-for-google-lunar-x-prize-bid/

"
The company’s current schedule calls for integrating the spacecraft in July, and then shipping it to Rocket Lab’s New Zealand launch site in October. The launch, scheduled for late this year, will be the seventh or eighth operational flight of the Electron, Richards said, shortly after a NASA mission under a Venture Class Launch Services contract Rocket Lab received in late 2015. - "

All going well they will be launching about 10 Electrons in 2017, 2-3 test launches plus 7-8 operational launches.
Given launch site delays, they have had time build enough LVs and scheduling at range shouldn't be issue. The only show stopper will be Electron reliability.

 First launch is Feb, which makes sense as they have to wait for bulk of holiday makers to leave. Which will be end of school holiday at end of Jan.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 01/14/2017 10:53 AM
This is about Moon Express but some info on Rocket Lab.

http://spacenews.com/moon-express-fully-funded-for-google-lunar-x-prize-bid/

"
The company’s current schedule calls for integrating the spacecraft in July, and then shipping it to Rocket Lab’s New Zealand launch site in October. The launch, scheduled for late this year, will be the seventh or eighth operational flight of the Electron, Richards said, shortly after a NASA mission under a Venture Class Launch Services contract Rocket Lab received in late 2015. - "

All going well they will be launching about 10 Electrons in 2017, 2-3 test launches plus 7-8 operational launches.
Given launch site delays, they have had time build enough LVs and scheduling at range shouldn't be issue. The only show stopper will be Electron reliability.

 First launch is Feb, which makes sense as they have to wait for bulk of holiday makers to leave. Which will be end of school holiday at end of Jan.

There is no way they will launch 8-10 flights in 2017, let alone successful flights.

I really like Rocket Lab but let's be realistic. This is a company that just barely managed to launch a small sounding rocket to the Karmann line. Orbit is another league entirely. Spacex took 3.4 years to achieve orbit - first F1 flight was March 2006, first suvcessful orbit was July 2009.

As to February, come on - we haven't seen a full mission duration S1 qualification burn from Rocket Lab yet, the burn they ran was using a short tank. And we haven't even got to GNC accuracy, stage separation or restart yet, let alone all the minor integration issues that can kibosh a launch. Those are massive hills to climb. With the best will in the world the last few details chew up huge chunks of time, especially when something goes wrong.

I reckon they are at least 6 months away from an initial all up attempt, maybe as much as a year.

Time for a flightpool - place your bets:-

1st full stack orbital launch attempt (regardless of outcome): 15 September 2017

1st successful orbital flight: 15 October 2019
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 01/14/2017 02:34 PM
Ringside, sounds you know more than Moon Express, Planet labs, NASA and Lockheed Martin. All of these companies have a vested interest in RL flying soon, but what do they know about space flight.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 01/14/2017 03:02 PM
Ringside, sounds you know more than Moon Express, Planet labs, NASA and Lockheed Martin. All of these companies have a vested interest in RL flying soon, but what do they know about space flight.
I don't see how that is relevant, although I probably know more about launcher development than Moon Express and Planet... LM is a shareholder and has a literal vested interest, but those two are just customers with best effort launch contracts. In any case what is relevant is just understanding the complexity of the task.

I really hope they fly, I think they are far and away the best of the bunch, but the bald facts are that the last few inches of launcher development are the biggest sweat. Getting it to the pad is one thing, making it fly where it is supposed to fly is quite another. The history of launchers is littered with underestimated launch dates and failed early attempts.

Just look at RL's dates. Last January it was "summer". Then it was "December". That's 6 months. Now we are another month along and I don't think they have given a new date - those quoted above came from NASA and Moon Express with caveats like "current schedule" and "if all goes to plan".

Reality is that it almost never goes to plan. They just got back from the NZ equivalent of summer holidays, it will take a month to get back up to speed and then probably two months to get ready. There are licenses and inspections, the regulator wants additional proof on 23 items as well as process changes, which takes 4 weeks. Then it's southern Autumn. Then something goes wrong, who knows what - a leak, a software bug, an engine glitch, a miscalculation. It's the first time they tried this, literally 1000 things could go wrong.  Then someone crucial gets sick or leaves. Then it's Easter school holidays. Then it's winter. Something else goes wrong, maybe something blows up during testing, maybe they discovered cracks in some vital part, maybe some revision creates an issue. That needs 6-8 weeks to understand what happened and fix it. Now it's another six months delay, it's winter and the weather sucks. The worst storm in history hits them, or an earthquake, causing some minor but time-consuming damage. Licenses are delayed again over some CYA paperpushing BS. There's an election and with the new government things slow down. The GNC team discover an issue with the gyro calibration - it's an easy fix but needs re-approval. Rabbits chew through some links between control and the pad. They announce another delay until the weather is better. One of the payloads has a delay. And so on.

Then they finally light it up and it blows on the pad. Worst possible outcome. Minimum 6 months to figure it out, make repairs and try again. Payloads get nervous. Somebody gets fired. And round and aroudn it goes.

I'm just being realistic. This is how things go IRL. It's not easy.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/14/2017 11:07 PM
Oh please, Trevor. I suspect Planet holds no illusions about how hard launch vehicle development is and the inherent risks.

"Oh, well you're skeptical of their hoped for launch rate?? How dare you! You must think you're smarter than their customers!!!" ...is the same kind of nonsense that people do with SpaceX.

I'm an huge SpaceX fan, but I've been following this field for a few years, and it's quite obvious that things tend not to go as well as people hope, and I try to base my expectations of SpaceX's operations accordingly. The same applies to RL (although I'm not much of a fan because they're not pursuing reuse). And I can assure you that their customers are fully aware of this. At least, a company like Planet or especially NASA, who has launched multiple payloads now, most certainly is.

Just because there's no way RL is launching 10 times in 2017 doesn't mean it's dumb to sign up as an early customer.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jongoff on 01/15/2017 03:44 AM
I'm not quite as pessimistic as ringsider (I think they'll get at least one successful flight off before the end of 2017), but I do agree that getting to 10 flights their first year seems to be very optimistic, when SpaceX still hasn't hit that rate even though they've been flying vehicles for 8yrs now. RL isn't pushing the technology as hard, and seems less likely to be constantly iterating on the design once it's in operations, but banking on them being able to fly several successful missions by year end just seems naively optimistic.

~Jon
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 01/15/2017 05:51 AM
..getting to 10 flights their first year seems to be very optimistic, when SpaceX still hasn't hit that rate..
Much smaller vehicle, components and operations, though. SpaceX never even tried to prepare F1 for that kind of rate.

Electron makes no sense if its not prepared for high production, integration and launch rate from get go. That includes debugging launches.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 01/15/2017 08:30 AM
. It was Ringsider 2019 for first orbital launch at prompted my reply. 

Given Moon Express place in queue I'd be surprised if they launch in 2017.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 01/15/2017 08:43 AM
. It was Ringsider 2019 for first orbital launch at prompted my reply. 

Given Moon Express place in queue I'd be surprised if they launch in 2017.
Successful launch in 2019. That's not unrealistic for a new launcher.

I think they will fire something this year, but successfully achieve orbit? That is a big step.

And that's why I said that job advert I posted a few replies ago for a PR Manager had some interesting language, about managing expectations....

"Crisis management, contingency planning and expectation management"

Even if they get it away, I bet all the language in advance will be "cautiously optimistic but of course it is the first time so we also anticipate some issues. It's not uncommon to have some failures in the early days, and we have taken that into account in our test flight planning." and so on.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Outer Space on 01/22/2017 05:49 AM
Rocket Lab USA has planned to move almost the entire operation home to the US. - Wonder if it's to do wit Trump?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 01/22/2017 05:54 AM
Rocket Lab USA has planned to move almost the entire operation home to the US...
Source ? I think that would not be possible, they have a large development team in Auckland

Meanwhile, some tidbits but not much new:
http://gisborneherald.co.nz/localnews/2628964-135/almost-ready-to-rocket-at-mahia
Quote
THE COUNTDOWN is on for the Rocket Lab test phase, with three rockets close to completion.

Two public meetings were held at Mahia over the weekend to keep local people up to date with the launch process. Rocket Lab operations vice-president Shane Fleming said the three test rockets were close to completion.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 01/22/2017 11:14 PM
Rocket Lab USA has planned to move almost the entire operation home to the US. - Wonder if it's to do wit Trump?

Ha!  I'd have thought Trump was a very good reason to move the entire operation home to New Zealand. :)

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 01/22/2017 11:17 PM
Meanwhile, some tidbits but not much new:
http://gisborneherald.co.nz/localnews/2628964-135/almost-ready-to-rocket-at-mahia
Quote
THE COUNTDOWN is on for the Rocket Lab test phase, with three rockets close to completion.

Two public meetings were held at Mahia over the weekend to keep local people up to date with the launch process. Rocket Lab operations vice-president Shane Fleming said the three test rockets were close to completion.

Three test rockets??  Interesting.  That's the same number we've seen in build.  If that's the case it doesn't seem likely there'll be any customer's payloads going upwards for a few months yet. :(

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/23/2017 01:21 AM
It's pretty common to launch some payloads even on test launches. At a very steep discount as it's no better than, say 50% odds they'll succeed.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 01/23/2017 01:39 AM
It's pretty common to launch some payloads even on test launches. At a very steep discount as it's no better than, say 50% odds they'll succeed.

If that's the case, perhaps said payload should have designed-in Plan B capability for "exploration of the depths of the Pacific Ocean".. or at least Plan C "atmospheric sampling" on the way down.  :P

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Katana on 01/23/2017 03:06 AM
It's pretty common to launch some payloads even on test launches. At a very steep discount as it's no better than, say 50% odds they'll succeed.

If that's the case, perhaps said payload should have designed-in Plan B capability for "exploration of the depths of the Pacific Ocean".. or at least Plan C "atmospheric sampling" on the way down.  :P
If payloads could be duplicated at low cost, some loss in launch could be accepted .

In a Cubesat program, the major cost is usually development (including salary of team), not manufacture.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 01/23/2017 03:34 AM
In a Cubesat program, the major cost is usually development (including salary of team), not manufacture.
Depends on the cubesat. You can burn over $100K on off the shelf parts easy
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Outer Space on 01/23/2017 06:39 AM
Rocket Lab USA has planned to move almost the entire operation home to the US. - Wonder if it's to do wit Trump?

Ha!  I'd have thought Trump was a very good reason to move the entire operation home to New Zealand. :)

"...home to New Zealand"? Isn't it an US company? 8)
And as some insider in a leading position assured, the company will move to the homeland.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Kryten on 01/23/2017 02:44 PM
Rocket Lab USA has planned to move almost the entire operation home to the US. - Wonder if it's to do wit Trump?

Ha!  I'd have thought Trump was a very good reason to move the entire operation home to New Zealand. :)

"...home to New Zealand"? Isn't it an US company? 8)
And as some insider in a leading position assured, the company will move to the homeland.
RocketLab was founded in New Zealand by New Zealanders, NZ is 'the homeland'. They only switched to being formally a US company a few years ago, and only to reduce the regulatory hurdles.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 01/23/2017 03:27 PM
They do plan to  manufacture and launch in USA at some stage. This would be in addition to NZ operation.

 I think there is some requirements for domestic manufacturing for government launches.

Bob Richard from Moon Express said March for 1st launch. From webinar comment a couple days ago.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Patchouli on 01/23/2017 05:07 PM
It's pretty common to launch some payloads even on test launches. At a very steep discount as it's no better than, say 50% odds they'll succeed.

If that's the case, perhaps said payload should have designed-in Plan B capability for "exploration of the depths of the Pacific Ocean".. or at least Plan C "atmospheric sampling" on the way down.  :P



That would be a very kerbal thing to do.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 01/23/2017 09:58 PM
They do plan to  manufacture and launch in USA at some stage. This would be in addition to NZ operation.

 I think there is some requirements for domestic manufacturing for government launches.

I'll add that it's no secret that Peter Beck (a Kiwi) has spent most of the last few years travelling between NZ and the USA... and I don't think that was just for holidays or to build up frequent-flyer miles.

And if I know anything at all about Kiwis it's that, even if the name on the door has a "USA" in it to keep the locals happy, they would never consider themselves American.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/23/2017 11:04 PM
They do plan to  manufacture and launch in USA at some stage. This would be in addition to NZ operation.

 I think there is some requirements for domestic manufacturing for government launches.

I'll add that it's no secret that Peter Beck (a Kiwi) has spent most of the last few years travelling between NZ and the USA... and I don't think that was just for holidays or to build up frequent-flyer miles.

And if I know anything at all about Kiwis it's that, even if the name on the door has a "USA" in it to keep the locals happy, they would never consider themselves American.
Why do those immigrants refuse to integrate? :D ;)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Katana on 01/24/2017 08:20 AM
They do plan to  manufacture and launch in USA at some stage. This would be in addition to NZ operation.

 I think there is some requirements for domestic manufacturing for government launches.

Bob Richard from Moon Express said March for 1st launch. From webinar comment a couple days ago.
Or maybe ITAR issues.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: msat on 01/24/2017 08:29 AM
While it's unfortunate that in ways they lost some sovereignty and national pride by incorporating in the US, it probably makes good business sense in that they stand a better chance at potentially gaining what could easily be their single biggest customer; the US gov with all its various agencies. 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 01/25/2017 09:51 PM
They do plan to  manufacture and launch in USA at some stage. This would be in addition to NZ operation.

 I think there is some requirements for domestic manufacturing for government launches.

Bob Richard from Moon Express said March for 1st launch. From webinar comment a couple days ago.
Or maybe ITAR issues.
Investor, ITAR and major customer driven. Planet shares the same VCs.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 01/31/2017 05:29 PM
A couple of local news articles.

http://gisborneherald.co.nz/localnews/2638644-135/rocket-lab-creating-more-jobs-for

"Cafe Mahia rebranded as Rocket Cafe a couple of weeks ago. The owner has new signage up and she has changed the menu, so that’s exciting, and she employed five new staff.”



http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/88021427/and-we-are-almost-go-for-kiwi-rocket-launch-in-northern-hawkes-bay

The company is aiming for its first launch sometime after the holiday season to minimise disruption given nearby Mahia's popularity over summer.

Beck also wants to avoid "launch fever" – the temptation to cut corners at the last minute to get the rocket off the ground.

"We'll go when we're ready."

 - Stuff
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 01/31/2017 09:11 PM
A couple of local news articles.
.................
"We'll go when we're ready."

I still think it's interesting that even at the point where they're almost ready to launch, it seems very few people in New Zealand (well, those I've talked to in Auckland anyways) either know or care.  "This is NZ. We don't do rockets here."  I put that down to (a) ridiculous levels of security (maybe normal in the USA but not in NZ) and (b) piece-meal press releases.

Hopefully the first launch will get people's attention...

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Alf Fass on 02/03/2017 03:58 AM
A couple of local news articles.
.................
"We'll go when we're ready."

I still think it's interesting that even at the point where they're almost ready to launch, it seems very few people in New Zealand (well, those I've talked to in Auckland anyways) either know or care.  "This is NZ. We don't do rockets here."  I put that down to (a) ridiculous levels of security (maybe normal in the USA but not in NZ) and (b) piece-meal press releases.

Hopefully the first launch will get people's attention...

You're right about little local interest, but I think you're wrong about it being due to a "ridiculous levels of security", rather I think it's just that Beck and RocketLab aren't into beating their own drum in the media, the reason being that there's no gain for them in doing so, they're not after an endless flow of public money, public approval or fame. Often a low key approach can make running things easier, after-all, few of their customers are followers of the NZ media.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 02/03/2017 05:01 AM
An exploding LV will definitely get them media coverage in NZ and international. I'm hoping for a normal launch.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 02/03/2017 05:10 AM
An exploding LV will definitely get them media coverage in NZ and international. I'm hoping for a normal launch.

So am I.. but the alternative would be more spectacular.  ;D
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: mr. mark on 02/03/2017 05:16 PM
Launch complex complete and launch weeks away. Looks beautiful! Credit: Rocketlab
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: russianhalo117 on 02/04/2017 04:22 AM
Launch complex complete and launch weeks away. Looks beautiful! Credit: Rocketlab
are these Rocket sheep??
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Johnnyhinbos on 02/04/2017 04:32 AM
Launch complex complete and launch weeks away. Looks beautiful! Credit: Rocketlab
are these Rocket sheep??
I see what you did there...
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Phil Stooke on 02/04/2017 05:47 PM
"are these Rocket sheep??"

No, perfectly ordinary sheep.  But they are grazing on Rocket lettuce.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Skyrocket on 02/04/2017 07:59 PM
Launch complex complete and launch weeks away. Looks beautiful! Credit: Rocketlab

Somehow i wonder, if erosion of the cliff edge does pose some threat to the pad?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: brickmack on 02/05/2017 04:36 PM
Somehow i wonder, if erosion of the cliff edge does pose some threat to the pad?

Probably not within the next century. Takes a while to wear away rock, they'll have plenty of time to move operations elsewhere
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Kryten on 02/05/2017 05:02 PM
According to this thesis (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/33052424_Shore_Platform_observation_at_Tatapouri_and_Mahia_Peninsula_New_Zealand), coastal erosion on the Mahia peninsula maxes out at under 2cm a year; should be fine for a good while.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: LtWigglesworth on 02/06/2017 06:39 PM
http://www.aip.net.nz/pdf/supplements/aip_supp_2feb17.pdf

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Galactic Penguin SST on 02/07/2017 12:04 AM
That looks like a non polar 50-ish degree inclination orbit target for whatever they launch first.  ::)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 02/07/2017 12:42 AM
That looks like a non polar 50-ish degree inclination orbit target for whatever they laumch first.  ::)

It could also be a good trajectory for their test flights into the ocean.

Apart from an illegal fishing vessel or two ::)  ..there's pretty much nothing to hit in that direction.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 02/10/2017 08:05 AM
Rocket Lab VLM patents are being rejected by the USPTO examiners:

https://register.epo.org/ipfwretrieve?apn=US.201213419810.A&lng=en

They have filed a few other applications as preliminary US patents, not yet public however.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 02/12/2017 09:39 PM
Rocket Lab VLM patents are being rejected by the USPTO examiners:

https://register.epo.org/ipfwretrieve?apn=US.201213419810.A&lng=en

They have filed a few other applications as preliminary US patents, not yet public however.

Huh?  What gives?? They aren't using a Liquid Monopropellant, are they?  At least not at the moment..  ???
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 02/12/2017 10:07 PM
Huh?  What gives?? They aren't using a Liquid Monopropellant, are they?  At least not at the moment..  ???

Earlier work. See http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/08/01/rocket-labs-history/
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: jamesh9000 on 02/16/2017 04:27 AM
Here's some big news:
Quote
Rocket Lab's first Electron vehicle has arrived at its launch site south of Gisborne in what the New Zealand company says is an important milestone for the space industry.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11801629 (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11801629)

Along with awesome close up video of her innards!
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: catdlr on 02/16/2017 04:32 AM
Here's some big news:
Quote
Rocket Lab's first Electron vehicle has arrived at its launch site south of Gisborne in what the New Zealand company says is an important milestone for the space industry.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11801629 (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11801629)

Along with awesome close up video of her innards!

Just in case members are not able to access that article:

Electron Arrives at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1
 
Rocket Lab

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFnTpURe7UI?t=001

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFnTpURe7UI
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Craftyatom on 02/16/2017 05:26 AM
I love how the text at the beginning of the video says that the arrival occurred on "16 February 2017", when it's actually still February 15th here in Arizona when that video was posted.

Thank goodness the launch times are generally posted in UTC as well  ;D

On a slightly more serious note, I find it interesting that it almost looks like they would assemble the engine section separately and then attach it to the bottom of the tankage shown here.  I doubt we'll ever really know for sure, but it's perhaps something to take away from this video.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 02/16/2017 05:37 AM
Interesting indeed. Good to see, and a cute name "It's Just a Test". Very New Zealand sense of humor.

Still think it will be September before they fly. This is s big step but still a ton of work to do.

One thing to notice. Rocket Lab have polluted the marketplace with their old $4.9M per launch figure, but this report sets the record straight based on actual pricing: "Customers will pay about $6.8 million per launch". This is more accurate, in fact I think it will be closer to $7.5M by the time they fly it, based on their internet pricing.

Just to be clear $6.8m is almost a 40% increase over the original price, but I still hear people quoting their original figure when discussing if X or Y can compete with Rocket Lab.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 02/16/2017 05:41 AM
I love how the text at the beginning of the video says that the arrival occurred on "16 February 2017", when it's actually still February 15th here in Arizona when that video was posted.

That's because they are 20 hours in front of you! :-) Here are some photos from the video.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 02/16/2017 05:42 AM
On a slightly more serious note, I find it interesting that it almost looks like they would assemble the engine section separately and then attach it to the bottom of the tankage shown here.  I doubt we'll ever really know for sure, but it's perhaps something to take away from this video.

I think the battery pack is not shown in that video either, those are just the S1 tanks. The shipping container is 12m OL, and I posted a table some time ago that shows the dimension of the full S1 is 12.1m, so they certainly have to split it for transport. That segment is probably 9m or so, based on a 1.2m diameter.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 02/16/2017 09:08 AM
Interesting indeed. Good to see, and a cute name "It's Just a Test". Very New Zealand sense of humor.

Still think it will be September before they fly. This is s big step but still a ton of work to do.

One thing to notice. Rocket Lab have polluted the marketplace with their old $4.9M per launch figure, but this report sets the record straight based on actual pricing: "Customers will pay about $6.8 million per launch". This is more accurate, in fact I think it will be closer to $7.5M by the time they fly it, based on their internet pricing.

Just to be clear $6.8m is almost a 40% increase over the original price, but I still hear people quoting their original figure when discussing if X or Y can compete with Rocket Lab.
This local article price is in local currency unless stated otherrwise, so NZD6.8M which is USD4.9M
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 02/16/2017 09:19 AM
Interesting indeed. Good to see, and a cute name "It's Just a Test". Very New Zealand sense of humor.

Still think it will be September before they fly. This is s big step but still a ton of work to do.

One thing to notice. Rocket Lab have polluted the marketplace with their old $4.9M per launch figure, but this report sets the record straight based on actual pricing: "Customers will pay about $6.8 million per launch". This is more accurate, in fact I think it will be closer to $7.5M by the time they fly it, based on their internet pricing.

Just to be clear $6.8m is almost a 40% increase over the original price, but I still hear people quoting their original figure when discussing if X or Y can compete with Rocket Lab.
This local article price is in local currency unless stated otherrwise, so NZD6.8M which is USD4.9M
Well in that case it's wrong - you just have to add up the prices on the website for a rideshare launch:-

4 x 1U @ US$77k = US$308k
10 x 3U @ US$240k = US$2.4m
4 x 6U @ US$480k = US$1.92m
2 x 12U @ US$960k = US$1.92m

Grand total = US$6.548m
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: high road on 02/16/2017 09:58 AM
Interesting indeed. Good to see, and a cute name "It's Just a Test". Very New Zealand sense of humor.

Still think it will be September before they fly. This is s big step but still a ton of work to do.

One thing to notice. Rocket Lab have polluted the marketplace with their old $4.9M per launch figure, but this report sets the record straight based on actual pricing: "Customers will pay about $6.8 million per launch". This is more accurate, in fact I think it will be closer to $7.5M by the time they fly it, based on their internet pricing.

Just to be clear $6.8m is almost a 40% increase over the original price, but I still hear people quoting their original figure when discussing if X or Y can compete with Rocket Lab.
This local article price is in local currency unless stated otherrwise, so NZD6.8M which is USD4.9M
Well in that case it's wrong - you just have to add up the prices on the website for a rideshare launch:-

4 x 1U @ US$77k = US$308k
10 x 3U @ US$240k = US$2.4m
4 x 6U @ US$480k = US$1.92m
2 x 12U @ US$960k = US$1.92m

Grand total = US$6.548m

IMO, it's very reasonable that combining payloads comes at a premium (per U) over having a dedicated rocket. A 34% premium does not strike me as abnormal for space launches.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChamberPressure on 02/16/2017 01:26 PM
On a slightly more serious note, I find it interesting that it almost looks like they would assemble the engine section separately and then attach it to the bottom of the tankage shown here.  I doubt we'll ever really know for sure, but it's perhaps something to take away from this video.

I think the battery pack is not shown in that video either, those are just the S1 tanks. The shipping container is 12m OL, and I posted a table some time ago that shows the dimension of the full S1 is 12.1m, so they certainly have to split it for transport. That segment is probably 9m or so, based on a 1.2m diameter.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but if the way the jobs on the RocketLab website are split between their L.A. HQ and Auckland are any indication, wouldn't that be because the propulsion systems are manufactured in the US and the rest of the rocket is manufactured in New Zealand?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 02/16/2017 01:33 PM
.. wouldn't that be because the propulsion systems are manufactured in the US and the rest of the rocket is manufactured in New Zealand?

No, not correct. All of the team that makes propulsion is in NZ.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 02/17/2017 12:07 AM
On a slightly more serious note, I find it interesting that it almost looks like they would assemble the engine section separately and then attach it to the bottom of the tankage shown here.  I doubt we'll ever really know for sure, but it's perhaps something to take away from this video.

I think the battery pack is not shown in that video either, those are just the S1 tanks. The shipping container is 12m OL, and I posted a table some time ago that shows the dimension of the full S1 is 12.1m, so they certainly have to split it for transport. That segment is probably 9m or so, based on a 1.2m diameter.

It's more than just the S1 tankage, but yes it's missing the engines (and the pointy end in the video of it coming off the truck) which are presumably fitted out separately on-site.  It makes sense to me that they wouldn't ship the stage with engines fitted - the road from Auckland would make a right mess of gimballed mounts or anything sensitive shipped horizontally like that.  There were two trucks in the video - maybe the 'accessories' were in the other truck?

I have been rather busy lately (and I know he is too) but it does seem that the only time I hear from Shaun these days is on Rocketlab's videos... {sigh}  Oh well, that's rocket science for ya. :)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: deptrai on 02/20/2017 07:10 PM
.. wouldn't that be because the propulsion systems are manufactured in the US and the rest of the rocket is manufactured in New Zealand?

No, not correct. All of the team that makes propulsion is in NZ.

Huntington Beach will be guidance set manufacture, avionics manufacture, electronics manufacture and propulsion manufacturing. 

New Zealand will be composite structures, propulsion test, final integration and launch.

Edit/Lar: fix quotes.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 02/21/2017 12:18 AM
Quote
No, not correct. All of the team that makes propulsion is in NZ.

Huntington Beach will be guidance set manufacture, avionics manufacture, electronics manufacture and propulsion manufacturing. 

New Zealand will be composite structures, propulsion test, final integration and launch.

Let's just say then that the rocket in that last video was NOT built in the USA. :)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Phil Stooke on 03/13/2017 03:35 PM
Any news yet on preparations? 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 03/14/2017 12:17 AM
Any news yet on preparations?

Fair go.. it's only been a couple of weeks since the first rocket got there and they still need to prove the stand properly (hydraulics, fuelling, controls, communications, etc.).  All they've publicly said thus far is that the first launch will take place in ''the coming months'', dependent on equipment testing and weather on the Mahia Peninsula.  The AIP Supplement gives them until 21 June to start launching something, based on a few days notice, so I'd give them at least another month before getting too worried.

When they're ready to go they'll let everyone know.  :)

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 03/21/2017 12:15 PM
Quote
Rocket Lab is announcing today a $75M Series D round that allows it to scale up production of its Electron rocket:

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/844172613979004928 (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/844172613979004928)

http://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-raises-75-million-to-scale-up-launch-vehicle-production/ (http://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-raises-75-million-to-scale-up-launch-vehicle-production/)

Edit to add:

Quote
Rocket Lab says it’s raised $148M to date, and claims a valuation of more than $1B. First Electron launch in the “coming months.”

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/844173153802768384 (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/844173153802768384)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 03/21/2017 12:34 PM
Quote
Rocket Lab is announcing today a $75M Series D round that allows it to scale up production of its Electron rocket:

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/844172613979004928 (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/844172613979004928)

http://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-raises-75-million-to-scale-up-launch-vehicle-production/ (http://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-raises-75-million-to-scale-up-launch-vehicle-production/)

Edit to add:

Quote
Rocket Lab says it’s raised $148M to date, and claims a valuation of more than $1B. First Electron launch in the “coming months.”

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/844173153802768384 (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/844173153802768384)
So the quiet private C round was about $30-35m on top of the initial B of about $15m plus the public funding. That makes complete sense.

This is why they delayed this first launch - they need their bank account full before the first launch because if it goes wrong nobody will back them at that point. They need cash to weather any issues with the first 2-3 attempts. Smart.

I am still backing September for launch #1.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 03/21/2017 10:38 PM
Production of engines and electronics in California. Airframe and tanks NZ?.
Assembly and launch NZ, for now at least.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Hobbes-22 on 03/22/2017 08:09 AM

I think the battery pack is not shown in that video either, those are just the S1 tanks. The shipping container is 12m OL, and I posted a table some time ago that shows the dimension of the full S1 is 12.1m, so they certainly have to split it for transport. That segment is probably 9m or so, based on a 1.2m diameter.

You can get ISO standard containers that are 13.7 m /45 ft long, so container length alone is not a reason to split the stage.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: WmThomas on 03/22/2017 12:25 PM
Production of engines and electronics in California. Airframe and tanks NZ?.
Assembly and launch NZ, for now at least.

Good article in Aviation Week summing up the current situation for RocketLab: http://aviationweek.com/space/rocket-lab-sets-production-boost?NL=AW-05&Issue=AW-05_20170322_AW-05_169&sfvc4enews=42 (http://aviationweek.com/space/rocket-lab-sets-production-boost?NL=AW-05&Issue=AW-05_20170322_AW-05_169&sfvc4enews=42)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 03/23/2017 12:15 AM

I think the battery pack is not shown in that video either, those are just the S1 tanks. The shipping container is 12m OL, and I posted a table some time ago that shows the dimension of the full S1 is 12.1m, so they certainly have to split it for transport. That segment is probably 9m or so, based on a 1.2m diameter.

You can get ISO standard containers that are 13.7 m /45 ft long, so container length alone is not a reason to split the stage.

Not in this part of the world.  Standard shipping containers are either 20' or 40' -- that's it.  You can get some extra height or p'raps side-opening if you wish, but no-one in these parts has their trucks, ships, straddles, storage areas nor anything else set up for anything other than this.
 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: gin455res on 03/29/2017 09:41 PM
How hard would it be to scale the electron up?


A reusable first stage with 30-40 engines, A reusable second stage with 5ish engines (vtol), and a single integrated small-ish-sat--3rd-stage with storable propellants?


Kind of fully-reusable without being fully-orbital as the small-sat--3rd-stage would achieve orbit. The small-sat having an enlarged tank and an additional orbital insertion engine. Poorer 3rd stage (storable) isp might be compensated for by reduced mass fraction afforded by sharing the enlarged small-sat tankage with the small station keeping engines.
[a bit like the (integrated?) third stage that takes a satellite from GTO to geostationary orbit, only to LEO and staging sub-orbitally]

delivering a single small-ish-sat with full-reusability, but without the faff of ridesharing.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Toast on 03/30/2017 04:59 PM
How hard would it be to scale the electron up?
A reusable first stage with 30-40 engines, A reusable second stage with 5ish engines (vtol), and a single integrated small-ish-sat--3rd-stage with storable propellants?

With that many changes, it'd probably be easier to just start from scratch. And Rocketlab (so far) hasn't shown much, if any, interest in reuse. Such a design would also go against their mantra--they're targeting easy and cheap manufacturing so that they can build lots of rockets very quickly. Building larger, more expensive (but reusable) stages to launch the same payloads doesn't fit with that business model.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 03/30/2017 11:21 PM
With that many changes, it'd probably be easier to just start from scratch. And Rocketlab (so far) hasn't shown much, if any, interest in reuse. Such a design would also go against their mantra--they're targeting easy and cheap manufacturing so that they can build lots of rockets very quickly. Building larger, more expensive (but reusable) stages to launch the same payloads doesn't fit with that business model.

I wouldn't be surprised if they have a bigger rocket on the drawing board and are just waiting for funding.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 03/30/2017 11:29 PM
With that many changes, it'd probably be easier to just start from scratch. And Rocketlab (so far) hasn't shown much, if any, interest in reuse. Such a design would also go against their mantra--they're targeting easy and cheap manufacturing so that they can build lots of rockets very quickly. Building larger, more expensive (but reusable) stages to launch the same payloads doesn't fit with that business model.

I wouldn't be surprised if they have a bigger rocket on the drawing board and are just waiting for funding.

I would.  Both their current manufacturing assembly facilities and their launch pad don't allow for anything much larger.. and besides bigger does not necessarily mean greater returns in the market they're playing in.  Perhaps they'll do 'bigger' in the States in years to come, on a drawing board they haven't bought yet, on a launch pad built by others, but for now methinks they have their hands full with the rocket they have now.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 03/30/2017 11:32 PM
for now methinks they have their hands full with the rocket they have now.

Agreed, but since when has that stopped the business guys.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: gin455res on 03/30/2017 11:35 PM
With that many changes, it'd probably be easier to just start from scratch. And Rocketlab (so far) hasn't shown much, if any, interest in reuse. Such a design would also go against their mantra--they're targeting easy and cheap manufacturing so that they can build lots of rockets very quickly. Building larger, more expensive (but reusable) stages to launch the same payloads doesn't fit with that business model.

I wouldn't be surprised if they have a bigger rocket on the drawing board and are just waiting for funding.


What might be the main non-linear costs of scaling the electron up by 5 x to allow the 2nd stage to have a low enough thrust to weight ratio to return vertically on a single engine.


And are there advantages to letting a single small-sat (and 3rd stage) take over some of the dv for orbital insertion, in terms of reducing the re-entry heating on the second stage?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Toast on 03/30/2017 11:50 PM
What might be the main non-linear costs of scaling the electron up by 5 x to allow the 2nd stage to have a low enough thrust to weight ratio to return vertically on a single engine.

First, there is no "scaling the electron up"--it really would be a whole different rocket at that point. And thrust-to-weight ratio on the second stage isn't enough to get stage recovery--those engines would need to be vacuum-optimized, and that would cause problems (e.g. flow separation) on the way back. You'd either need a retractable nozzle extension, a second landing engine, or some other scheme. Plus, you'd have to reinforce the second stage to be able to withstand reentry. That's not an easy task, and not a problem that RocketLab has ever even started working on. A third stage is an even worse proposition, because it destroys the cost-saving benefits of reusing the second stage. Why not just reuse the first stage and expend the second? Unless you can do it all with two stages, reusing the second stage isn't worth it, because you have to build a larger and more expensive first and second stage plus a third stage which will cost just about much as the original expendable second stage.

And again, RocketLab is not currently focused on reusability. They want a cheap and quick to build expendable rocket.
Maybe they'll worry about reusability in the future, but for now they haven't even launched a demo mission yet.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 03/31/2017 12:05 AM
For now a low cost reliable ELV is all they need to worry about. RLV will come eventually.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: gin455res on 03/31/2017 12:08 AM
What might be the main non-linear costs of scaling the electron up by 5 x to allow the 2nd stage to have a low enough thrust to weight ratio to return vertically on a single engine.

First, there is no "scaling the electron up"--it really would be a whole different rocket at that point. And thrust-to-weight ratio on the second stage isn't enough to get stage recovery--those engines would need to be vacuum-optimized, and that would cause problems (e.g. flow separation) on the way back. You'd either need a retractable nozzle extension, a second landing engine, or some other scheme. Plus, you'd have to reinforce the second stage to be able to withstand reentry. That's not an easy task, and not a problem that RocketLab has ever even started working on. A third stage is an even worse proposition, because it destroys the cost-saving benefits of reusing the second stage. Why not just reuse the first stage and expend the second? Unless you can do it all with two stages, reusing the second stage isn't worth it, because you have to build a larger and more expensive first and second stage plus a third stage which will cost just about much as the original expendable second stage.

And again, RocketLab is not currently focused on reusability. They want a cheap and quick to build expendable rocket.
Maybe they'll worry about reusability in the future, but for now they haven't even launched a demo mission yet.


The engines would be the same. 4 vacuum engines encircling a sea level engine on the 2nd-stage. This is pretty analogous to the configuration of the ITS upper-stage which would have 6 vacuum engines around 3 sea level engines. Why would there be flow separation issues if the 2nd stage is landing on the central sea-level engine?


New features, tank, tps, legs (unless it can caught), and programming.


You sound like you are connected to Rocket Lab, though.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Toast on 03/31/2017 12:14 AM
You sound like you are connected to Rocket Lab, though.

Not connected to them in any way. I'm just fully aware that they're a company who's still trying to get off the ground, and has only scraped together enough investment to cover their first few flights. Designing rocket that's more ambitious than anything currently on the market when they don't even have anything flying yet is ludicrous. Give it time. Once Electron is flying and they've got money coming in, we can see where they want to go with this. Until then, they aren't going to worry about reuse.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 03/31/2017 08:43 PM
Apparently Rocket Lab doesn't want any photos of crashes, to protect IPR:-

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/89223394/rocket-lab-wants-to-stop-you-taking-photos-if-rocket-crashes

What would you get from a photo? Tanks? Engine tech?

Actually he explicitly mentions turbopumps which is weird because a) there is a lot of data out there and b) being electric, they don't have any...
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 03/31/2017 09:08 PM
Wow, Rocket Lab really hates this new NZ space legislation:-

https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/submissions-and-advice/document/51SCFDT_EVI_00DBHOH_BILL71017_1_A541066/rocket-lab

They submitted almost as many pages of comments as the bill itself has...

Could they be brought down by their own government and that lovely launch site ends up being a huge white elephant?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 03/31/2017 09:08 PM
Given any crashed Electron will endup being underwater I don't see it being an issue.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 03/31/2017 09:11 PM
Given any crashed Electron will endup being underwater I don't see it being an issue.
Beck explicitly says he wants the "no photos" law because some debris could up on land, and discusses reusability as well as IPR and security (in the filing). He really doesn't want people taking photos of what is inside that rocket.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 04/04/2017 03:34 PM
Quote
Rocket Lab ‏Verified account @RocketLabUSA 15m15 minutes ago

Electron standing tall at @RocketLabUSA Launch Complex 1. First test flight in coming months. Stay tuned.

https://twitter.com/RocketLabUSA/status/849280022082981890 (https://twitter.com/RocketLabUSA/status/849280022082981890)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 04/04/2017 03:58 PM
Quote
Rocket Lab ‏Verified account @RocketLabUSA 15m15 minutes ago

Electron standing tall at @RocketLabUSA Launch Complex 1. First test flight in coming months. Stay tuned.

https://twitter.com/RocketLabUSA/status/849280022082981890 (https://twitter.com/RocketLabUSA/status/849280022082981890)
That is cool. Still a September launch though!
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 04/04/2017 04:39 PM
It's nice to see a new rocket vertical on a new pad!
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: edkyle99 on 04/04/2017 05:29 PM
Diminutive, battery powered, plastic rocket.  This will be interesting.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 04/04/2017 06:33 PM
Diminutive, battery powered, plastic rocket.  This will be interesting.

Using the term "plastic" for carbon composite is not just unnecessarily insulting, it's also misleading at best and inaccurate at worst.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Davidthefat on 04/04/2017 06:36 PM
Diminutive, battery powered, plastic rocket.  This will be interesting.

Using the term "plastic" for carbon composite is not just unnecessarily insulting, it's also misleading at best and inaccurate at worst.


Like calling 787 a "plastic" plane...
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 04/04/2017 07:27 PM
Diminutive, battery powered, plastic rocket.  This will be interesting.

Using the term "plastic" for carbon composite is not just unnecessarily insulting, it's also misleading at best and inaccurate at worst.
Technically he is correct though as it is CFRP - Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic or Polymer. Either is accurate.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: edkyle99 on 04/04/2017 08:06 PM
Diminutive, battery powered, plastic rocket.  This will be interesting.

Using the term "plastic" for carbon composite is not just unnecessarily insulting, it's also misleading at best and inaccurate at worst.

Not meant as an insult.  The first liquid fueled "plastic rocket" will make history.  LauncherOne is plastic too!

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Katana on 04/09/2017 03:10 AM
Diminutive, battery powered, plastic rocket.  This will be interesting.

Using the term "plastic" for carbon composite is not just unnecessarily insulting, it's also misleading at best and inaccurate at worst.


Like calling 787 a "plastic" plane...
F-18is often called "plastic bug"
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 04/09/2017 11:32 PM
Diminutive, battery powered, plastic rocket.  This will be interesting.

Using the term "plastic" for carbon composite is not just unnecessarily insulting, it's also misleading at best and inaccurate at worst.


Like calling 787 a "plastic" plane...
F-18is often called "plastic bug"

Interesting.. given there is so little CF in an F-18.

By comparison, the 787 gets the "plastic plane' moniker by virtue of it being the first commercial aircraft designed to be built using more CF composites than metal. ..which is also one reason (excessive weight) it took so long to get the first few literally off the ground.

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/10/2017 03:18 AM
More accurate to call it a graphite plane than plastic. Carbon fiber reinforced plastic is still mostly carbon fiber (i.e. graphite fiber).
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 04/11/2017 12:40 AM
More accurate to call it a graphite plane than plastic. Carbon fiber reinforced plastic is still mostly carbon fiber (i.e. graphite fiber).

Sure.. but (a) "plastic plane" rolls off journo's tongues a little easier than "graphite plane" and (b) after years of sucking on lead pencils, Joe Public probably wouldn't recognise graphite even if he saw it.  ;)
 
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: meekGee on 04/12/2017 04:15 PM
More accurate to call it a graphite plane than plastic. Carbon fiber reinforced plastic is still mostly carbon fiber (i.e. graphite fiber).

Sure.. but (a) "plastic plane" rolls off journo's tongues a little easier than "graphite plane" and (b) after years of sucking on lead pencils, Joe Public probably wouldn't recognise graphite even if he saw it.  ;)
 
Carbon plane!
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 04/13/2017 01:12 AM
Carbon plane!

Where you been the last decade or so? Carbon is a dirty word (physically and literally), don'tcha know?!? Think "carbon dioxide", "carbon emissions", "carbon pollution"...

If the general public ever discover RL's shiny black missile is made of carbon[1] and is destined to either (a) burn up in the atmosphere or (b) pollute the Southern Ocean, their PR credits would go negative in a heartbeat.
 

[1] = See what I did there?  I got this thread back on topic!  ;D

Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: meekGee on 04/13/2017 02:32 AM
Carbon plane!

Where you been the last decade or so? Carbon is a dirty word (physically and literally), don'tcha know?!? Think "carbon dioxide", "carbon emissions", "carbon pollution"...

If the general public ever discover RL's shiny black missile is made of carbon[1] and is destined to either (a) burn up in the atmosphere or (b) pollute the Southern Ocean, their PR credits would go negative in a heartbeat.
 

[1] = See what I did there?  I got this thread back on topic!  ;D

I know - 'twas in jest.  "Carbon Plane" will be as successful as a lead zeppelin.  (To mix my metaphors)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Katana on 04/13/2017 02:40 AM
Composite
Scaled Composites
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 04/13/2017 03:31 AM
Composite
Scaled Composites

 ::)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 04/13/2017 07:22 AM
Cyclone hits area of Rocket lab launch site

(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C9L6XaNUIAEwZo8.jpg)

"Heavy downpours, gale force winds of 150 kph and storm surges up to five metres are predicted to batter the east coast."

"A month’s worth of rain is expected to fall in the space of a day on the east coast, with the ground already sodden and covered in up to a metre of mud and debris."

Simulation of wind shows highest speeds at Mahia peninsula:

https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/orthographic=-187.07,-44.68,1514/loc=128.371,-13.984?abcnewsembedheight=400 (https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/orthographic=-187.07,-44.68,1514/loc=128.371,-13.984?abcnewsembedheight=400)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 04/16/2017 05:18 AM
New article, although I don't think any new info, on Rocket Lab & CubeSats:

https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2017/04/how-a-6-million-launch-vehicle-could-transform-the-satellite-business/ (https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2017/04/how-a-6-million-launch-vehicle-could-transform-the-satellite-business/)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/11/2017 04:05 PM
Quote
An exciting day for us as we unveil the mission patch for ‘It’s a Test - the first ever orbital launch attempt from a private facility.

https://twitter.com/rocketlabusa/status/862492473771347968 (https://twitter.com/rocketlabusa/status/862492473771347968)
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: ringsider on 05/11/2017 07:36 PM
Rocket Lab has quietly set first test dates in a new NOTAM, 22 May - 3 June:-

(http://i.imgur.com/5biXzBw.png)

NZ 106(T)/17 SOUTH PACIFIC – New Zealand – Hawke Bay, Bounty Islands and Southern Ocean. Rocket Launch and Space Debris

1. A hazardous rocket launch test operation will be taking place between 22 May and 3 June 2017 within the following zones: (Coords follow)

2. A marine reserve area will be in effect within Launch Hazard Area A in accordance with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Navigation Safety Bylaw 2012 3.8.

3. Rocket Lab Range Control can be contacted in the vicinity of the Mahia Peninsula during launch operations on VHF...

4. Mariners are advised to exercise caution when navigating in and around the areas.

http://www.linz.govt.nz/sites/default/files/media/ntm/files/20170512-nz10-099109.pdf

Here's a plot of the debris boxes, showing flight path:-

(http://i.imgur.com/uhFLhI6.png)

Distance to far end of the first box is 1020km downrange, furthest point is 2195km.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: QuantumG on 05/11/2017 10:18 PM
Dates!
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: TrevorMonty on 05/12/2017 12:44 AM
Quote
An exciting day for us as we unveil the mission patch for ‘It’s a Test - the first ever orbital launch attempt from a private facility.

https://twitter.com/rocketlabusa/status/862492473771347968 (https://twitter.com/rocketlabusa/status/862492473771347968)

That explains all the delays, mission critical patches take time to develop.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: savuporo on 05/12/2017 02:23 AM
Dates!

Indeed. This is getting exciting again.
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: Galactic Penguin SST on 05/12/2017 02:50 AM
Have they announced that they have done/will do a WDR and/or static fire yet? That will go a long way in confirming the creditability of this fligh's date.

Also I thought that they cannot launch deep in winter due to weather constraints?
Title: Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
Post by: CameronD on 05/12/2017 03:48 AM
Have they announced that they have done/will do a WDR and/or static fire yet? That will go a long way in confirming the creditability of this fligh's date.

Also I thought that they cannot launch deep in winter due to weather constraints?

Well, they're not going to be doing anything for a little while yet:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/92452373/doublewhammy-marks-round-four-for-bad-weather

The access road is dirt, remember?