New Zealand aerospace company, Rocket Lab, plans to regularly deploy satellites into space using a rocket made of 3D-printed parts.
The rocket is set to boost the New Zealand space industry with the ability to launch small satellites cost-effectively and frequently.
The company hopes to build a network or constellation of small satellites that have the potential to provide internet and phone coverage from space.
Instead of using a gas turbine seen in traditional rocket engines, Rocket Lab’s 4,600lbf Rutherford is a simplified turbo-pumped LOX/RP-1 engine that uses electric motors and batteries.
Using 3D printing to produce all primary components, the engine can be produced in three days rather than the month typically required to build an equivalent engine, and at only a fraction of the price.
Rocket Lab is aiming for 100 flights a year, making New Zealand the ninth nation to have ever put something into orbit.
A test launch is planned for later this year from an as-yet undisclosed New Zealand location.
To see more of the rocket, watch a report from TVNZ.
Image courtesy of Rocket Lab.