Rocket Lab has shown plans for a new, reusable rocket. This Neutron rocket is intended for medium-sized launches and, according to the company, would be a direct alternative to SpaceX’s Falcon 9. The first launch should take place in 2024.
Neutron will be significantly larger than its predecessor, Electron, Rocket Lab reports. The new model will be 40 meters high with a diameter of 4.5 meters. Neutron would be capable of carrying payloads of up to 8,000 kilograms to low Earth orbit, 2,000 kg to the moon and up to 1,500 kg to Mars and Venus. To illustrate, the company’s current Electron rocket could carry satellites weighing up to 300kg. In a presentation, the company calls Neutron “a direct alternative to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.”
Neutron compared to the Falcon 9 from SpaceX and Electron. Image via Rocket Lab
The new rocket is fully reusable, according to Rocket Lab. Neutron’s first stage will use an ocean platform for landing, according to Rocket Lab, which the company says will provide a higher launch frequency with a lower cost per launch. The rocket is primarily intended to transport satellites, but will eventually also be used for resupply missions to the ISS and manned space flights.
At the end of last year, Rocket Lab already took steps in the field of reusable rockets. In November, the company returned an Electron rocket stage to Earth during an operational mission. This first stage then landed on parachutes in the sea. Rocket Lab previously captured a rocket stage during tests, when it used a helicopter to capture an Electron rocket stage from the air.
Rocket Lab further reports that it plans an IPO on the Nasdaq, also writes The Verge. This is done through a special purpose acquisition company, also known as a blank check company. With this, an IPO is initiated via a shell company, with the aim of raising money before the company is merged with another private company. Rocket Lab is said to be valued at $4.1 billion.