Rocket Lab celebrates coming close to orbit

Rocket Lab Peter Beck celebrates
Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck cheers the first Electron rocket launch. (Rocket Lab via YouTube)

Rocket Lab didn’t quite make it to orbit on its first try, but the company’s CEO says he’s “very happy” with the Electron rocket’s performance nevertheless.

“We got a lot further than certainly we expected,” founder and CEO Peter Beck told reporters today, hours after the maiden launch from Rocket Lab’s pad on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula.

Beck repeatedly stressed that the company still has to analyze the data from the flight. However, he said a preliminary review indicated that the two-stage rocket’s performance was nominal until second-stage fairing separation.

He told GeekWire that the launch team had targeted a 300- to 500-kilometer orbit (200 to 300 miles) for its first test flight, nicknamed “It’s a Test.” Beck estimated that the second stage made it to a height of 250 kilometers (155 miles) before descending again on a suborbital trajectory.

Today Rocket Lab released a video of the countdown and launch that had a decidedly celebratory feel, highlighting the cheers in Mission Control when the rocket rose spaceward.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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