This is the first of several launches for the company, which is focused on small satellites that weigh only a few dozen pounds, unlike SpaceX’s large probes. It has received over $1 million to work on the vehicle launched today, called the Vector-R. “We always wanted to build micro-rockets, but Elon [Musk] had other ideas,” Jim Cantrell, Vector’s CEO and SpaceX’s first vice president of business development, told The Verge last year. “He was interested in building a company with larger rockets for his Martian ecosystem. We were more attracted to the smaller stuff.”
The Vector-R uses a special 3D-printed injector that the company tested last December. (The injector is the part that delivers propellants to power an engine.) Instead of building multiple parts and then assembling them, as is typical, the Vector-R uses 3D-printing technology to build everything in one piece, which is supposed to drive down costs and make the parts fit together better.
Vector will soon conduct another flight test in Georgia.