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Rocket Lab aims to boldly go where no spaceflight company has gone before.
On Thursday (Oct. 11), the California-based startup unveiled a huge new facility in Auckland, New Zealand, that's designed to enable fast mass production of the company's Electron rocket. And iconic "Star Trek" actor William Shatner was on hand to lend some more excitement to the proceedings.
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Rocket Lab aims to make spaceflight much more frequent and accessible with the 57-foot-tall (17 m) Electron, which can launch 500 lbs. (225 kilograms) to Earth orbit for about $5 million per liftoff.
Electrons have flown two demonstration missions to date, lifting off from Rocket Lab's New Zealand launch site in May 2017 and again in January of this year. The rocket deployed four satellites into Earth orbit on that second flight, including three tiny Earth-observing cubesats and a reflective, spherical spacecraft called the Humanity Star.
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That spacecraft is no more; it was designed to catch skywatchers' eyes for a brief time, and it has already fallen back into Earth's atmosphere.
The Electron's first operational commercial launch, called "It's Business Time," is on track for a November launch. And Rocket Lab envisions big things...
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