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Rocket Lab blasts into the record books with 50th Electron launch

Rocket Lab's 50th Electron launch.
Rocket Lab conducts its 50th Electron launch on June 20. Rocket Lab

New Zealand-based company Rocket Lab has hit an impressive milestone with the 50th launch of its Electron rocket. Like SpaceX, the company provides commercial launch services, carrying payloads into near-Earth orbit for private companies and providing services for space agencies like NASA. According to the company, the Electron rocket has reached 50 launches faster than any other commercially developed rocket.

Rocket Lab’s success is particularly notable as New Zealand does not have a significant space program, and most similar commercial launch entities are clustered in the U.S. and Europe. Rocket Lab launches from its Launch Complex 1 facility, located close to Ahuriri Point on New Zealand’s North Island. The first Electron launch took place there in 2017, and the first successful orbital launch was in 2018.

The most recent launch took place at 2:13 p.m. ET on June 20, carrying five Internet of Things (IoT) satellites into orbit for the company Kinéis. As is typical for Rocket Lab, the mission was given a fun name — in this case “No Time Toulouse.”

Kinéis’s CEO, Alexandre Tisserant, said at the launch: “Kinéis is proud of the success of Electron’s 50th flight. The delicate phase of separating our five nanosatellites from the launcher went very well. Our teams are now working to place them in their respective orbits. These first five satellites in the constellation mark the start of the IoT revolution driven by Kinéis connectivity and offer the prospect of full commercial services. See you later this year for the second launch, and congratulations to the teams!”

Rocket Lab also shared some particularly gorgeous images of the launch on X (formerly Twitter), showing the moment the rocket lifted off the launchpad:

Here are some close-ups of the Electron’s powerful engines:

“When Electron lifted off the pad for the first time in 2017, we knew we’d unlocked a new era in spaceflight, one where small satellites got to call the shots for the first time with frequent, tailored, and reliable access to orbit,” said Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck in a statement.

“Fifty launches later, Electron is the most successful commercial small rocket globally. Making it to 50 launches faster than any commercially developed rocket in history is testament to the incredible team we have behind us. Today’s precise, tailored mission for Kinéis is yet another demonstration of the value Electron continues to provide to the small sat community. Congratulations to our team and thank you to our customers and supporters for helping us continue to break records and set new industry standards.”

Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
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