The private space race is heating up.
U.S. and New Zealand spaceflight company Rocket Lab successfully completed its first commercial launch called “It’s Business Time” on Sunday, sending seven payloads to orbit.
Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula at 4:50 p.m., shortly reaching orbit afterward.
On board was seven spacecraft, which mostly comprised of small satellites and one drag sail called NABEO, which is designed to deorbit inactive, small satellites to help reduce space junk.
Electron is designed to carry smaller payloads around 150 to 225 kg (330 to 495 lb), and the company intends to start ramping up its launches in 2019.
Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck told CNBC the aim is to start launching once a month, before moving up to “one every two weeks.”
The launch of “It’s Business Time” was originally scheduled for June, but was postponed after a glitch within a part was spotted during pre-launch operations. Sunday’s launch follows the success of its second test flight in January, where it deployed three satellites.
“The world is waking up to the new normal. With the Electron launch vehicle, rapid and reliable access to space is now a reality for small satellites,” Beck said in a statement.
“We’re thrilled to be leading the small satellite launch industry by reaching orbit a second time and deploying more payloads. The team carried out a flawless flight with incredibly precise orbital insertion.”
Rocket Lab won’t have much time to rest. Its next launch, the ELaNa XIX mission for NASA, is slated to take off in December.