Rocket Lab Announces Neutron Reusable Rocket for Human Spaceflight-news

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(Photo: Rocket Lab)

American aerospace manufacturer Rocket Lab has today announced a new reusable rocket that’s big enough to act as a launch vehicle for satellite mega-constellations, deep space missions, and even human spaceflight.

It’s called Neutron, and the two-stage rocket can carry up to eight metric tons of payload, which is a huge increase over the company’s existing Electron launch vehicle. For comparison, Electron is an 18-meter tall rocket capable of carrying a 660lb payload. Neutron is 40 meters tall, 4.5 meters wide, and as well as carrying up to eight tons into low-Earth orbit, Rocket Lab says it will be capable of transporting a two-ton payload to the Moon, and 1.5 tons to Mars or Venus.

“Rocket Lab solved small launch with Electron. Now we’re unlocking a new category with Neutron,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO. “We’ve listened to our customers and the message is clear – biggest doesn’t always mean best when it comes to constellation deployment. Efficiently building the mega constellations of the future requires launching multiple satellites in batches to different orbital planes. It’s a requirement that all too often sees large launch vehicles fly with payloads well below their full lift capacity, which is an incredibly expensive and inefficient way to build out a satellite constellation. Neutron’s 8-ton lift capacity will make it ideally sized to deploy satellites in batches to specific orbital planes, creating a more targeted and streamlined approach to building out mega constellations.”

Rocket Lab intends to use the existing launch pad at Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport located at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility. By doing so, the company can take advantage of the existing infrastructure and therefore plans to carry out a first launch as soon as 2024. The first stage of the Neutron rocket is reusable and will land on an ocean platform.

If everything goes to plan, Rocket Lab will be vying for International Space Station resupply contracts as well as satellite deployments and human spaceflight missions by the middle of the decade.

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