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Electron

Electron (It's A Test) [Rocket Lab]

Electron KS (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 (KS) powered by Rocket Lab's Curie engine running on an unspecified “green” monopropellant is availlable for increased flexibility of the missions.

For operations from the Scottish launch site, the Lockeheed Martin consortium is planning to use a Moog built small upper stage called SL-OMV (Small Launch Orbital Manoeuvring Vehicle) to deploy up to six 6U-Cubesats in different orbits.

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.

Ecliptic Enterprises will offer hosted payloads on the kick stage, which will remain attached to the kick stage.

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. In October 2018, Rocket Lab selected Wallops Island as the launch pad for the USA. A consortium including Lockheed Martin is planing an Electron launch site on the A’Mhoine peninsula, Sutherland county, 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.

In August 2019, Rocket Lab announced to modify the Electron for recovery of stage 1. The modifications needed include aa parachute system and likely as stretch of stage 1. A helicoper is planned to catch the returning stage in air.

Version Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3
Electron Stage 1 / 9 × Rutherford Stage 2 / Rutherford-Vacuum -
Electron KS Stage 1 / 9 × Rutherford Stage 2 / Rutherford-Vacuum Kick Stage (KS) / Curie
Electron Photon-LEO Stage 1 / 9 × Rutherford Stage 2 / Rutherford-Vacuum Photon / Curie
Electron Photon-IP Stage 1 / 9 × Rutherford Stage 2 / Rutherford-Vacuum Photon / hyperCurie
Electron SL-OMV Stage 1 / 9 × Rutherford Stage 2 / Rutherford-Vacuum SL-OMV
Performance (kg) LEO LPEO SSO GTO GEO MolO IP
Electron 225 - - - -
Electron KS 100 - - - -
Electron Photon-LEO 100 - - - -
Electron Photon-IP - - - 25
Electron SL-OMV 100 - - - -
No.  TypNo Type                   Date            LS             Payload 

 1    1    Electron               25.05.2017  F   OnS LC-1A      It's a Test / Humanity Star
 2    1    Electron KS            21.01.2018      OnS LC-1A      Still Testing / Humanity Star / Lemur-2 72 / Lemur-2 73 / Dove Pioneer
 3    2    Electron KS            11.11.2018      OnS LC-1A      CICERO 10 / Lemur-2 82 / Lemur-2 83 / Proxima 1 / Proxima 2 / Irvine 01 / NABEO 1
 4    3    Electron KS            16.12.2018      OnS LC-1A      ALBus / CeREs / CHOMPTT / Da Vinci / ISX / NMTSat / RSat-P / Shields 1 / STF 1 / CubeSail A /
                                                                 CubeSail B / TOMSat EagleScout / TOMSat R3 / SHFT 1
 5    4    Electron KS            28.03.2019      OnS LC-1A      R3D2
 6    5    Electron KS            05.05.2019      OnS LC-1A      Harbinger (ICEYE X3) / SPARC 1 / Falcon-ODE
 7    6    Electron KS            29.06.2019      OnS LC-1A      BlackSky Global 3 / Painani 1 / Prometheus 2.7 / Prometheus 2.9 / ACRUX 1 / SpaceBEE 8, 9
 8    7    Electron KS            19.08.2019      OnS LC-1A      BlackSky Global 4 / BRO 1 / Pearl White 1 / Pearl White 2
 9    8    Electron KS            17.10.2019      OnS LC-1A      Palisade
10    9    Electron KS            06.12.2019      OnS LC-1A      ALE 2 / NOOR 1A / NOOR 1B / ATL 1 / FossaSat 1 / SMOG-P / TRSI-Sat
11   10    Electron KS            31.01.2020      OnS LC-1A      USA 294 (NROL 151)
12   11    Electron KS            13.06.2020      OnS LC-1A      ANDESITE Mule / ANDESITE Node 1, ..., 8 / USA 301 / USA 302 / USA 303 / RAAF M2 Pathfinder
13   12    Electron KS            04.07.2020  F   OnS LC-1A      CE-SAT 1B / Flock-4e 1, ..., 5 / Faraday 1
14    1    Electron Photon-LEO    31.08.2020      OnS LC-1A      Capella 2 / First Light


Planned

 x    1    Electron Photon-IP     xx.xx.2021      WI LA-0A/LC-2  CAPSTONE
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.2020      OnS LC-1       CE-SAT 2B
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.2020      OnS LC-1       Dragracer A / Dragracer B / ?
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.202x      OnS LC-1       Flock-y 1, ..., 20-25
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.202x      OnS LC-1       Flock-z 1, ..., 20-25
15   14    Electron KS            xx.09.2020      WI LA-0A/LC-2  Monolith
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.2020      OnS LC-1       McNair / ?
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.2021      OnS LC-1A      NROL x
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.2021      OnS LC-1B      NROL y
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.2020      OnS LC-1       StriX α
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.2020      OnS LC-1       (Circle Aerospace multi satellite launch)
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.202x      OnS LC-1       (Circle Aerospace multi satellite launch)
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.202x      OnS LC-1       (Circle Aerospace multi satellite launch)
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.202x      OnS LC-1       (Circle Aerospace multi satellite launch)
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.202x      OnS LC-1       (Circle Aerospace multi satellite launch)
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.202x      OnS LC-1       (Circle Aerospace multi satellite launch)
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.202x      OnS LC-1       (Circle Aerospace multi satellite launch)
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.202x      OnS LC-1       (Circle Aerospace multi satellite launch)
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.202x      OnS LC-1       (Circle Aerospace multi satellite launch)
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.202x      OnS LC-1       (Circle Aerospace multi satellite launch)
 x    x    Electron KS            xx.xx.2021      OnS LC-1       (OHB comsat)
 x    1    Electron SL-OMV        xx.xx.20xx      AMh LC-3       (multi satellite launch)
 

To be co-manifested:

QuakeTEC

 
Failures:

 1: Flight was terminated due to a telemetry glitch


Launch sites:

AMh = A’Mhoine, Sutherland, Scotland, UK UK
OnS = Onenui Station, Mahia, Wairoa, North Island, New Zealand New Zealand
WI  = Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), Wallops Island, Virginia, USA USA

References: