Electron developed by Rocket Lab is the most innovative rocket of the decade, with 3d printed parts and electrical Rutherford engines, which leads to the cheapest launch vehicle commercially available.
The parts of Electron is 3D printed from a light and strong carbon compound. According to the company it took 24hrs to print out its Rutherford Engine, which is pretty impressive.
Talking about the engine, the first stage of Electron is powered by nine of them which provides 192kN of peak thrust. Also, this is the first in class which is powered by electric pumps and uses LOX as its fuel.The second stage is powered by single Rutherford engine which is tuned for the vacuum of space.Electron can carry a maximum payload of 225 kg, although its nominal payload according to the company is 150kg.
Another innovation in Electron is its kick stage which provides capability for deploying multiple payloads in different orbit, enabling companies and government for sharing ride without the requirement for deployment of satellites in the same orbit around the earth.
Rocket Lab is also marketing what they call ” Plug-In Payload” which is essentially a fairing which will allow its customers to connect their satellites in their controlled environment, leading to the connection of the satellite to the Electron in hours during launch.
Moreover, the rocket is launched from a private launch site, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 which is located on the east coast of New Zealand’s north islands. This will reduce the cost of launch and also increase the frequency of the launches.
With Electron , Rocket Lab is trying to go small like other players in space industry. They are trying to miniaturize the space technology to enable many kinds of research which has very low budgets.