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Electron (Still Testing) [Rocket Lab]

Electron is a small liquid fueled orbital launch vehicle, which is being developed by Rocket Lab, a US/New Zealand company. Both stages are RP-1 and LOX fueled.

Electron has a carbon composite structure of 1.2 m diameter and 20 m length.

The powerplant of Electron is Rocket Lab's Rutherford engine using LOX/RP-1 as fuels. Rutherford adopts an new electric propulsion cycle, using electric motors to drive its pumps, and is the first oxygen/hydrocarbon engine to use 3D printing for all primary components. Electron’s first stage is powered by multiple Rutherford engines with a total peak thrust of 146.6 kN. Electron’s second stage is powered by a Rutherford Vacuum Engine which is tailored to provide improved performance in vacuum conditions. An additional kick stage powered by Rocket Lab's Curie engine running on an unspecified “green” monopropellant is availlable for increased flexibility of the missions.

To avoid complications with payload processing a containerized approach will be used, where customers encapsulate their satellites in payload fairings provided by the company, which can be stored and easily attached to the rocket shortly before launch.

Rocket Lab had originally selected Birdling's Flat (Kaitorete Spit), Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand as a launch site. It is located 44 km from Christchurch. It is unclear if this site remains a future option. Due to legal issues, another launch site at Onenui Station on the Mahia peninsula on the North Island was selected for the maiden flights. Launch sites in the USA, possibly Cape Canaveral and Pacific Spaceport Complex - Alaska (Kodiak), are also evaluated. A consortium including Lockheed Martin is considering an Electron launch site on the A’Mhoine peninsula in northern Scotland.

The Electron vehicle carries up to 225 kg payloads to low earth orbit. The payload for a 500 km sun-synchronous orbit is 100 kg.

The first Electron launch was planned for late 2016, but has been delayed for early 2017, with commercial operations scheduled to begin later in 2017. The vehicle will have a cost of $4.9 M. The first launch took place in May 2017, but failed to reach orbit. The second vehicle was successfully launched in January 2018.

Version Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3
Electron (2) Stage 1 / 9 × Rutherford Stage 2 / Rutherford-Vacuum -
Electron (3) Stage 1 / 9 × Rutherford Stage 2 / Rutherford-Vacuum Kick motor / Curie
Performance (kg) LEO LPEO SSO GTO GEO MolO IP
Electron (2) 225 - - - -
Electron (3) 100 - - - -
No.  TypNo Type             Date            LS           Payload 

 1    1    Electron (2?)    25.05.2017  F   OnS LC-1     It's a Test / Humanity Star
 2    2    Electron (3)     21.01.2018      OnS LC-1     Still Testing / Humanity Star / Lemur-2 72 / Lemur-2 73 / Dove Pioneer


 3    3    Electron (3)     xx.06.2018      OnS LC-1     CICERO x / Lemur-2 x1 / Lemur-2 x2 / NABEO / Irvine 01
 4    4    Electron         xx.xx.2018      OnS LC-1     ANDESITE / CeREs / ALBus / CHOMPTT / Da Vinci / ISX / NMTSat / RSat-P / Shields 1 / STF 1 /
                                                         CubeSail 1 /CubeSail 2 / TOMSat EagleScout / TOMSat R3 / SHFT 1

 x    x    Electron         xx.11.2018      OnS LC-1     BlackSky Global 4 / ?
 x    x    Electron         xx.xx.2019      OnS LC-1     CE-SAT 1 Mk.2 / CE-SAT 2
 x    x    Electron         xx.xx.2018      OnS LC-1     Flock-x 1, ..., 20-25
 x    x    Electron         xx.xx.201x      OnS LC-1     Flock-y 1, ..., 20-25
 x    x    Electron         xx.xx.201x      OnS LC-1     Flock-z 1, ..., 20-25
 x    x    Electron         xx.xx.2018      OnS LC-1     ICEYE X3 / ?
 x    x    Electron         xx.xx.2019      OnS LC-1     MX-1E 1
 x    x    Electron         xx.xx.20xx      OnS LC-1     MX-1E 2
 x    x    Electron         xx.xx.20xx      OnS LC-1     MX-1E 3
 x    x    Electron         xx.xx.2019      OnS LC-1     (Spaceflight multi satellite launch)

Payloads to be manifested:

Outernet 1 / Outernet 2 / Outernet 3


 1: Flight was terminated due to a telemetry glitch

Launch sites:

CC  = Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Eastern Test Range, Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA USA ?
BF  = Birdling's Flat, Kaitorete Spit, Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand New Zealand † ?
Kd  = Pacific Spaceport Complex - Alaska (Kodiak Launch Complex), Kodiak Island, Narrow Cape, Alaska, USA USA ?
OnS = Onenui Station, Mahia, Wairoa, North Island, New Zealand New Zealand