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Rocket Lab Adds Spacecraft Service, Save Millions For Startups

Private rocket manufacturer Rocket Lab is now evolving its business model to include a unique service to revolutionize the way how space-crafts are built by military and even startups. It demonstrated its Photon Satellite Platform early this week that was developed and built as an evolution of its Electron Rocket’s upper stage. This stage is the topmost section of a rocket which separates from its lower booster stage after reaching a certain height. Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck told that Photon has been a part of the original business plan as till date no firm has integrated satellite’s space-craft with the rocket.

The firm’s primary business is to build and launch small rockets that sent mid-sized spacecraft that are average size of refrigerator to obit. The firm’s Electron rocket which was priced between $6.5 and $7 million earlier will now be priced higher due to its photon capabilities. The technology will give satellite firms a new method to test and operate in new technology in space. Earlier satellite firms that wanted to launch sensors for analytics or imaging had to build their own hardware for housing and powering that technology. According to chief payload system engineer Grant Bonin the recent spacecraft launched by Electron can take around 30 to 60 % of mass that payload can use.

But with Photon satellite technologies can reduce cost and risk involved in building a spacecraft. With Photon satellite firms don’t have to invest millions of dollars to gather a team for manufacturing complex hardware for space. The firm regards Photon as a highly evolved version of its “kick stage” which has been successfully used by it four times to delivery payloads in specific orbits. A large chunk of Rocket Lab’s November fundraising program that helped to bring together $140 million was spent only on development of Photon which CFO Adam Spice believes was negligible compared to the benefits that can be derived from it.

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Kevin Wells

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