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Tuesday, 26 March 2019 02:01 pm

LISTEN: Space technology takes off with successful NZ launch

Feb 7th, 2018 | By | Category: Featured Article

New Zealand has marked a milestone as the 11th country to successfully launch into space.

The unmanned Electron rocket, named “Still Testing”, took off from the Mahia Peninsula Rocket Lab launch site on January 20th.

The Rocket Lab launch is being applauded internationally for contributing to the space industry by introducing innovative technology.

So what is it about New Zealand’s electron rocket that is so innovative?

Director of Aerospace Education Gerry Munden says Rocket Lab has broken one of the biggest space travel barriers through use of different materials.

A composite material is the result of combining two or more materials with different physical or chemical properties, producing a new material with distinct characteristics.

In the case of the Electron rocket, carbon composite materials provide the strength of steel at only a fraction of the weight.

The innovative materials overcome one of the biggest expenses in space travel.

In addition to the lighter materials, construction innovations have sped up production times.

The reduced weight and construction time means Electron rockets can be used to launch satellites into space more often, and for a much lower price.

Launching satellites into orbit with Electron rockets will cost as low as $4.9million, compared to the tens and hundreds of millions it has cost with previous technology.

Gerry Munden says the increase in satellites will provide many technological benefits for New Zealand.

In addition to aiding communication technologies, Rocket Lab facilities are already being used for environmental projects.

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