Rocket Lab celebrates 100th Rutherford engine

Posted on 06 Aug 2019 and read 596 times
Rocket Lab celebrates 100th Rutherford engineCalifornia-based Rocket Lab, a company focused on small-satellite launches, recently celebrated the completion of its 100th Rutherford engine.

It began development of “the world’s first 3-D printed electric turbo-pump-fed engine” in 2013, and a Rutherford engine was test-fired in the same year, marking the beginning of a new generation in rocket propulsion.

Today, 70 Rutherford engines have been launched into space, the most recent being the ‘Make It Rain’ mission on 29 June from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand.

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck says Rutherford’s ( unique 3-D printed design was developed with “the single-minded goal of producing a reliable and high-performing rocket engine that could be manufactured quickly, efficiently and in high volumes.

“The Rutherford engine has played an integral part in enabling Rocket Lab to make frequent and reliable launch a reality for small satellites.

"It is a testament to our innovative design and manufacturing teams that we have achieved everything we set out to doin just a few short years — an entirely new type of rocket engine that delivers unmatched performance, boasts a proven record of 100% launch reliability and can be manufactured quickly and efficiently.”

Lachlan Matchett — Rocket Lab’s vice-president of propulsion, who has led the Rutherford engine programme since its inception — said: “Rutherford’s unique design certainly went against the grain of traditional rocket propulsion systems, so to make it to 100 flight-ready engines, more than 28,000 seconds of engine-test run time and seven successful launches is a proud moment for the team.”

To meet ‘a growing launch manifest’, Rocket Lab has recently expanded its propulsion manufacturing and test teams; it has also increased its 3-D printing facilities to produce 200 Rutherford engines in the next 12 months.

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