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Most Innovative Companies

Rocket Lab

There were 85 publicly announced launch attempts worldwide in 2016, a good indicator of just how costly and difficult it still is to get a rocket into space. Rocket Lab doesn’t think it needs to be that way. The Electron, which is made specifically for sending smaller satellites into orbit, reduces the cost of a launch by reinventing the rocket. It’s powered by electricity instead of liquid fuel, and the engine is manufactured using a 3D printer. "With six 3D printers we can produce an engine every 24 hours,” says Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck. They cost around a million dollars each to produce, and can be modified as needed with each successive printing. It all takes place at the company’s private spaceport in New Zealand, and the goal is to be able to launch a payload every week, and eventually every 72 hours. “The fundamental mission of the company is not to build a rocket,” Beck tells Fast Company. “What we’re trying to do here is enable a small-scale satellite revolution.” A test launch is expected to take place early 2017.

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