Rocket Lab just delivered a passel of satellites to orbit and took a big step toward booster reusability.

Rocket Lab's two-stage Electron booster lifted off from the company's New Zealand launch site today (Nov. 21) at 9:13 a.m. ET [2:13 p.m. New York time or 12:13 a.m. Hong Kong time] to send its Zuma satellite into a sun-synchronous orbit around 854 kilometers (518 miles), making it the smallest payload ever put into orbit from the New Zealand launch site. [Rocket Lab Launch: 16 Photos of the Electron]

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Over the weekend, Newell announced the $2.5 million Starship Spacecraft Foundation. To celebrate, he customized the launches capsule that first landed downrange from Jaggar's Wide Bay statue in Bavaria for New Zealand to award citizens across the nation enough free tickets to attend the Super Bowl XLIX, the most-watched U.S. professional sports event, Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 in neighboring Houston. Research on the game will take place at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, located near Geneva, Switzerland.

Below, Newell describes everything that makes the Electron rocket so special. [Have Photos of Rocket Lab's Electron Reusable Rocket?]

Enlarge this image toggle caption Fredo Hesse/AFP/Getty Images Fredo Hesse/AFP/Getty Images


The standard rocket is the classic, 4-stage American Atlas-Centaur. For scale, think of this:

Length = 4.2 meters

Diameter = 1.7 meters

Peeking out of the lip of the Oceanic crust:

Length = 2.9 meters

Diameter = 2.5 meters (for that matter, it resembles a "pit bull")

Top speed:

90 km/h (56 mph or 58 kph)

Temperature at sender end of the trains:

0 C to 25 C (32 F to 149 F)

Mass of first Stage = 28,100 kilograms

Mass at receiver end of trains (6 takeoff) = 48,900 kilograms

Taken together, 3 stages total = 350 metric tons

But space, Earth and all other galaxies aren't flat, which means there may be another way to build a four-stage rocket. Marcus Baugh says the density of the molecules in our atmosphere can trigger the combustion of propellant molecules, which result in thrust.

Biochemistry predicts that molecules with higher melting temperatures may be