You are currently viewing Rocket Lab announces plans to develop Neutron, a reusable 40 meters tall rocket
Credits: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab announces plans to develop Neutron, a reusable 40 meters tall rocket

Rocket Lab today unveiled plans to develop Neutron, a 40 meters tall, reusable rocket, capable of launching satellite constellations, interplanetary space probes and astronauts.

This new rocket, will be the company’s second orbital launch vehicle after the Electron rocket, which first flew in May 2017. Electron is a two-stage, small-lift launch vehicle and currently Rocket Lab’s only rocket in operations. The company uses it to launch smallsats for different companies, organisations and government agencies from their launch site in New Zealand.

An Electron launches from New Zealand.
An Electron launches from New Zealand. Credits: Rocket Lab

Neutron will be more than twice as large as Electron, with a height of 40 m and a diameter of 4.5 m. For comparison, the Electron is only 18 m in height, 1.2 m in diameter and capable of launching a 300 kg heavy payload into a low Earth orbit (LEO). Like Electron, Neutron will consist of two-stages and will use liquid oxygen (LOX) and RP-1 as propellants. To decrease the launch costs and enabling a high launch cadence, Rocket Lab plans to recover and then reuse the rocket’s first stage, by landing it on a platform in the ocean.

Due to its size and performance, the rocket will be more suitable to launch satellite constellations, compared to other launchers. Many of the medium-lift rockets are inefficient in launching these particular payloads, due to the small satellites beeing under the rocket’s lift capacity. Besides carrying constellations into LEO, Rocket Lab plans to use the Neutron to launch space probes to interplanetary destinations. Neutron is expected to be able to fly spacecrafts up to 2,000 kg to the Moon, or 1,500 kg heavy missions to Mars or Venus. Primarily designed to launch satellites, the rocket might even fly cargo and humans into space and to the International Space Station at some point in the future.

Artistic depiction of a Neutron rocket.
Artistic depiction of a Neutron rocket. Credits: Rocket Lab

Neutron’s maiden flight is currently expected to occur in 2024 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island in Virginia, United States. This will enable Rocket Lab to utilize the infrastructure already constructed at the spaceport for other launch vehicles.


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