General Discussion

Topic: AE Podcast Ep. #8 – Rocket Lab's Lachlan Matchett on Democratizing Access to Space and the Rutherford Rocket Engine 

1.  AE Podcast Ep. #8 – Rocket Lab's Lachlan Matchett on Democratizing Access to Space and the Rutherford Rocket Engine

Posted 12 days ago

In this episode, Rainer talks to Lachlan Matchett, who is the VP of Propulsion at Rocket Lab. Rocket Lab is a startup rocket company with the mission of removing barriers to commercial space by frequent launches to low-earth orbit. The current conundrum of many space technology companies that want to launch small satellites into space is that there is no dedicated launch service tailored to their needs. This is where Rocket Lab enters the picture. To provide small payloads with a flexible and dedicated launch vehicle, Rocket Lab has developed the Electron rocket. The Electron is a two-stage rocket that can be tailored to unique orbital requirements and provides frequent flight opportunities at personalized schedules.

In terms of the engineering, there are many interesting features to the Electron rocket, but one of the key innovations is the Rutherford engine that Lachlan Matchett and his team have developed over the last five years. Rutherford is the first oxygen/kerosene-powered engine to use 3D printing for all primary components. In fact, the Rutherford engine can be printed in an astounding 24 hrs, and this is one of the driving factors behind Rocket Lab's cost efficiency and high target launch frequency. So in this episode, Lachlan and Rainer talk about:

  • Rocket Lab's business model
  • their recent launch success in Jan 2018
  • some of the engineering highlights of the Rutherford engine
  • and Rocket Lab's plans for the future

Also, as of this writing Rocket Lab is hiring, so make sure to check out their careers page. You can tune into Rocket Lab's future launches by following Rocket Lab on Twitter.



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CJ James,
SAMPE
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