Rocket Lab to build a medium-class rocket called Neutron
Building off the success of its flight-proven Electron rocket, Rocket Lab announced in a company-produced video that it will be building a new rocket called Neutron capable of carrying eight metric tons of payload.
Expected to make its debut as early as 2024, the Neutron rocket aims to be capable of taking 8,000 kilograms of payload to orbit, almost 27 times the capacity of the Electron rocket. Unlike Electron, however, Neutron is being designed to be capable of reusable flight by way of vertical landing on an ocean-going platform. While the Electron rocket is reusable, the method of recovery does not include controlled flight back to Earth.
“Rocket Lab solved small launch with Electron. Now we’re unlocking a new category with Neutron,” said Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck in a company press release. “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.”
Neutron is expected to stand 131 feet (40 meters) tall, more than twice the size of Electron. The larger rocket is being designed with a 15-foot (4.5-meter) fairing as opposed to Electron’s 5-foot (1.2 meter) fairing, making it capable of carrying bigger satellites to orbit. Moreover, Beck said Neutron will be capable of human spaceflight.
In a short video highlighting several of the milestones the company completed over the last few years, Beck was featured noting how the company has delved into the satellite market as well as making its rockets reusable—something the company has gone on record saying it would never do.
Keeping his promise before Rocket Lab’s first successful mission proving reusability, Beck threw his Rocket Lab-branded hat into a blender and ate it in a symbolic tribute to the company’s accomplishments.
Video courtesy of Rocket Lab
Having a life-long interest in crewed space flight, Desforges’ passion materialized on a family vacation in 1999 when he was able see the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-96. Since then, Desforges has been an enthusiast of space exploration efforts. He lived in Orlando, Florida for a year, during which time he had the opportunity to witness the flights of the historic CRS-4 and EFT-1 missions in person at Cape Canaveral. He earned his Private Pilot Certificate in 2017, holds a degree in Aviation Management, and currently works as an Operations Analyst in the aviation industry in Georgia.