Today’s launch by Rocket Lab, “The Owl Spreads Its Wings,” was as unremarkable as a rocket going to orbit can be, but it also marked a few milestones for the growing space company: 30 launches and 150 satellites taken to space.
The company’s first trip to orbit was in January of 2018, technically Electron’s second test flight but the first successful delivery of a payload to space. That was after more than 10 years of design, engineering, and manufacturing since the company was founded in 2006.
It then had an unbroken streak of 18 launches, but on its 20th there was an anomaly and it lost the payload and vehicle. But as founder and CEO Peter Beck told me shortly afterwards, “no more than seconds after we realized that we had an anomaly on our hands, the team was already working it.” And they were clear to fly a month later.
The company’s ambitions have only grown since then, with plans for designing spacecraft, a trip to Venus, and a bigger, better launch vehicle called Neutron that will compete with Rocket Lab’s larger peers. Of course the way Beck tells it, this was all the plan from the get-go — they just had to nail launch first.
2022 has had nothing but successes, including the first attempt to catch a falling first stage with a helicopter. They’ll be trying that again before the end of the year, but you can relive that nail-biting moment here:
Today’s launch (well… tomorrow’s, technically, since they’re in New Zealand) was for the Japanese company Synspective, which took over the whole vehicle to deliver its StriX-1 satellite to a 563-kilometer circular orbit. (Rocket Lab also delivered two other StriX satellites in February of this year and December of 2020.)
We expect to hear more about Rocket Lab’s ambitions when Beck chats with TechCrunch at our TC Sessions: Space event in December.