Vector barrels ahead with its small-satellite launcher
Vector Space Systems

Vector Space Systems successfully launched a full-scale model of its Vector-R rocket on Wednesday in Mojave, California.

The test flight, which remained under 50,000 feet for regulatory purposes, allows the company to remain on track to begin providing launch services for small satellites in 2018, said Jim Cantrell, the company’s chief executive and cofounder.

The Arizona-based rocket company is one of a handful of competitors racing to the launch pad to provide lower-cost access to space for small satellites.

These satellites are generally under 500kg in mass and often much smaller (the industry trend is toward smaller, lighter, more capable satellites).

The Vector-R rocket will eventually be capable of launching a payload of up to 45kg to an orbit of 800km above the Earth. Other companies trying to reach this market include US-based Virgin Orbit and New Zealand-based Rocket Lab. Neither company has begun commercial launches.
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