There was quite a slice of American funding, and research, in this project. But we still like the fact that New Zealand is reinventing itself as a high-tech force to be reckoned with. Right now, a New Zealand aerospace company sounds on a par with a Jamaican bobsled team. But that can change…
The US-based Rocket Labs has worked on the Electron for years now. It’s a largely 3D printed rocket that should help reduce the cost of space travel. That means we can deliver payloads cheaper than before and turn interplanetary delivery services into a thing in the near future.
Watch the maiden flight here:
If this sounds nuts, bear in mind that Tesla boss Elon Musk wants to land a mission on Mars by 2025 to start colonizing the planet. Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, meanwhile, wants to move heavy industry to space to reduce the wear and tear caused by pollution on Earth.
Space delivery rockets are set to be a thing
Both of them are working on their own delivery rockets, but now Rocket Labs has thrown its hat into the ring with this carbon-fiber, 3D printed rocket that can take up to 225kg of, well, almost anything, into space.
It’s 17m tall and 1.2m wide, so it looks like an overblown firework. It should be enough to reach orbit, though, and it comes with 41,500lb of thrust in the First Stage alone.
Space exploration went quiet for a while, but it’s about to kick off again in ernest. Musk’s SpaceX has launched a number of missions and is finally perfecting its reusable rockets. Bezos’s Blue Origin has also successfully completed the first tests.
It’s cheap to get into space now
So we’re about to see another, privately funded space race and with the lower cost of entry, almost anybody can join. 3D printing has lowered the production costs and the whole point of modern-day rockets is to get to space and back in a commercially viable manner.
Son’t be surprised if New Zealand isn’t the weirdest country to join the space race. In fact, we can almost see North Korea’s entry. We’re expecting a cardboard box, with holes cut in the side, to successfully circumnavigate the sun any day now.