49

I’ve continued to do a bit of research on this, and what we’re seeing falling away are two of the lithium-ion battery packs that power the Rutherford engine turbopumps. The Rutherford engine is unique in that its small size allows it to utilise an electric pump-fed cycle. On the second stage in particular, there are three lithium-ion batteries, two of ...


46

Take a look at the SABRE engine. The goal is to achieve single stage runway liftoff/land to/from orbit with a hybrid engine capable of breathing air at low altitude but switching to stored oxidizer and operating like a rocket when it is not practical to use ambient air. The limitations of an air-breathing engine for space launch are that You can't go very ...


43

Systems that do this exist and more are being introduced. It's just that they hide their appearance and look somewhat different to what would be expected from what you describe. Orbital Sciences Corporation (now owned by Northrop Grumman) have been air launching the Pegasus satellite launcher since 1990 (almost 30 years). Virgin Galactic's 'White Knight' ...


19

There are two major barriers: one is that thrust-to-weight ratio of jet engines is pretty poor (2 J58s massing more than 15 times what 9 Rutherfords do), the other is that it's hard to make an engine that performs efficiently over the wide range of speeds and altitudes that a first stage wants to cover. That said, Boeing at one point toyed with a concept ...


15

The Rutherford engines produce much less vibration than SRB's. This is actually a major selling point for Rocket Lab, as pointed out by Peter Beck here after 31:03: In essence, the low vibration spectrum enables the customer to put more useful payload onboard the Electron, because they need less/lighter mechanical structure....


15

It's not painted black. It just happens to be that color. Omitting paint saves weight. On 2017 May 24, Rocketlab itself tweeted: Why a black rocket? Carbon composite materials are black! Paint is heavy & adds another process. Plus, doesn't it look beautiful! #ItsaTest A different question would be why other launchers don't omit paint. I found an ...


12

Solid Rocket Motors are inexpensive to manufacture if you have the knowledge and experience already. For space use they are commonly made by weapons makers, sharing many production assets with weapon manufacturing. Minus the military infrastructure, they are not as easy or economical. A private company like Rocket Lab would likely have to buy solid rocket ...


12

Effectively it has been done, but not in the way you're thinking (or probably intending). The USAF launched its ASAT missile into space from an F-15 fighter aircraft. While not an orbital rocket, it's close. And for orbital rockets, there's Pegasus, launched from a converted L1011 Tristar mother aircraft. It's not a concept that ever really took off, ...


11

This is ice breaking away from the vehicle due to vibration, acceleration and aerodynamic forces. The Electron uses cryogenic liquid oxygen and kerosene as its oxidiser and propellant. The low temperature (approx −185 °C) in the tanks causes water vapour from the atmosphere to condense and freeze onto the body of the rocket. This can can be seen on the ...


11

Launch sites far from the equator have to cancel out less of the Earth's rotation to get to a polar orbit, the Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 at Mahia Peninsula is at 39 degrees south giving it an extra ~361 m/s, compared to ~465 m/s at the equator. This is ~104 m/s less velocity to cancel out compared to a launch site like the EAS launch site in Kourou, French ...


10

The blue cylinders contain electric motors that are used to vector the engine assembly. This could be either a linear motor or a conventional motor driving e.g. a thread screw. The pumps and the thrust vector actuators on the engine have brushless DC motors powered by batteries. This means they can avoid hydraulics, simplifying the design. In this 2018 ...


9

"Kick stage" or "apogee kick motor" is a loosely defined term for the last stage of a satellite launcher. Frequently it's the stage that puts the satellite into its final orbit. The term is not specific to RocketLabs. It might be developed independently of the rest of the launcher; for example a given launcher might be able to launch large payloads directly ...


9

There are a number of reasons why this is more challenging. I suspect the primary difference is getting the rockets actually to Wallops Island. The rockets are made in New Zealand, not far from their launch complex. Transporting them there is quite easy. Transporting them across the world is more challenging, to say the least. Wallops Island is actually ...


8

In addition to Answers by Everyday Astronaut and Saiboogu a potential advantage is lower overall program cost due to safety. The current Electron is very safe in fully assembled form until fueled so can be tested, observed by media/public and moved around with minimal difficulty. Then once tested and ready to go the fuel can be loaded remotely and launched....


8

The Federal Aviation Administration is the United States' Federal Government organization responsible for every US vehicle that flies. The Electron flies, and it is launched by a US company, hence, it falls under the jurisdiction of the FAA, more precisely under the jurisdiction of the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation. This is based on ...


7

Spaceflight Now uses the word 'deploy' in an unusual sense. We normally expect it to mean 'separate the payload from the rocket', but here they mean 'separate the combination of kickstage and payloads from the second stage'. So all the satellites end up in a circular orbit. From RocketLab's site: These new payloads join existing ‘It’s Business Time’ ...


7

It's frost! That part of the tank holds the liquid oxygen. Liquid oxygen is very cold, and as a result, moisture in the atmosphere freezes onto the cold wall of the tank. The white stuff is ice. You can tell by how much the liquid oxygen filling process has proceeded by seeing how high the ice goes up the tank. All rockets that use cryogenic fuels without ...


6

The question you ask in the text (about the material) is answered here for the Falcon 9. You need to understand that the fuel and oxidiser tanks are the bulk of the structure, so the other wall of the tanks is the outer sheet of the stage for most of its length. They are made of an aluminium-lithium alloy. The domes at the ends of the tanks are plain ...


5

For straight vertical, it just doesn't make sense. Jet engines have a low TWR, you are adding a lot of complexity, and it won't gain you much at all. The only way it make some sense is from an airplane type delivery, which will give you a more ideal launch location, and some speed and altitude when you drop the rocket. But keep in mind, it requires a huge ...


5

Tim Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut, just uploaded an interview with Peter Beck from Rocket Lab where he asked exactly this question. His answer was that soot build up at the injector and breaks lose from time to time. So basically its just carbon that lights up due to the heat. Unofficial transcription based on listening and watching YouTube's inacurate closed-...


5

A mostly un referenced list would include: Needing to design rocket structure to bear load horizontally pre launch as well as vertically under thrust. Classic rocket design supports the rocket against 1G at the engines using the same structural elements that must handle several Gs in flight anyway so ground based support are largely 'free' other than ...


4

The design constraints for air launch are more about the first stage being able to light while horizontal (no fuel sloshing away from intakes), and the structural additions to support being hung fully laden sideways rather than vertically in the same direction as thrust loads. There also needs to be the flight controls to achieve the pitch up, which may ...


4

In this image of a Falcon 9 takeoff (CRS-14), you can see some transparency in the exhaust of the (much larger) Merlin 1D: I can make out the rear half of the engine bells through the exhaust (this is clearer in the much larger original of the photo, so click to enlarge). Now comparing to the Rocketlab photo, the structure of the exhaust is different, ...


4

Note that payload performance is often hard to compare apples-to-apples as different providers will use different reference orbits (200 km, 28 deg, vs 500 km SSO, etc). Pegasus (US), Electron (US/NZ), Kaituozhe-2 (China), Kuaizhou-1A (China), and Hyperbola-1 (China), Shaviyt (Israel), and Safir (Iran) are currently operational in the sub 500 kg to LEO ...


4

Rocket Labs Electron rocket is made of carbon fibre, this gives them the black color you describe. It is not painted black deliberately, in fact they do not paint it at all to save weight. The Falcon 9 is painted white partly to preserve the aluminium structure, partly to increase its albedo. However SpaceX have stated that the thermal effects are so minimal ...


3

Lithium-polymer batteries are a subtype of lithium-ion batteries, distinguished by using a solid polymer electrolyte instead of a liquid. The polymer electrolyte performs somewhat worse than the liquid electrolytes, with lower ionic conductivity leading to higher internal resistance and a greater drop in voltage under heavy load ("the physical ...


3

Though TWR(Thrust to Weight Ratio) of jet engines are low, you can still do it , if not 1 jet engine, use 4 jet engines. If not 4 jet engines, use 30 jet engines. You are going to reuse all jet engines anyway and fly them only just for few minutes. So you aren't going to lose a lot of money. But max speed they can provide is around mach 3 , which is less ...


3

As a disclaimer: I do not have specific information nor any connection to those companies, I would expect such details not to be public and trust no one to be a reliable source for industry intellectual property except the specific person who developed and deployed the technology. There are plenty references and methods for calibrating an magnetometer as ...


3

According to Virgin Orbit's Service Guide: Up to 300 kg / 661 lbm to 500 km / 270 nmi Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO) Up to 500 kg / 1100 lbm to 230 km / 124 nmi circular 0 degree inclination Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Virgin Orbit claims variously to launch between 0°- 120° and 0°- 180° in different literature. However, since air-launch provides a very ...


3

This answer links to a somewhat acerbic blogpost which points out (among other things) that the official Humanity Star official website has changed the number of reflective panels listed, from 65 to 76! The OP suggests that the five triangles of the "bottom" pentagon might be removed, making it 75 reflective faces, but what could 76 mean? The blogpost ...


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