On its second attempt this year, Rocket Lab successfully launched three satellites into low Earth Orbit on its Electron rocket from its New Zealand launch facility. The satellites were an Earth observation satellite from a company called Planet and two other satellites from a company called Spire. Rocket Lab had launched an Electron last May, which failed to reach orbit.

The company had conducted several launch attempts in December which failed to take off. The first attempt in January was aborted due to the encroachment of two boats in the launch range and because of weather in the upper atmosphere. The successful launch has immense implications for the Small Satellite market and for one company’s dream for landing on the moon.

The firm, with the successful launch, has vowed to go into commercial operations as soon as possible.

Small satellites are becoming more common.

Modern satellite design has allowed for the construction of tiny and lightweight satellites that can do the work that more massive ones had done previously. Rocket Lab’s Electron is in response to this growing market. The Electron is entirely made of carbon composite materials. Its Rutherford rocket engines are created by a 3D printing process. However, because the launch vehicle is so cheap to manufacture, Rocket Lab can charge $5 million to put a payload into space, placing spaceflight within the range of smaller, less deep-pocketed customers. The company’s primary competitor will be Virgin Orbit, which will put small satellites into orbit using its horizontal takeoff and landing vehicle.

Moon Express’s dream of a private lunar landing closer to reality.

The dreams of one Rocket Lab customer, in particular, were buoyed by the successful flight of the Electron. Moon Express is the company’s most high profile customer. It proposes to land a probe on the surface of the moon as part of the Google X Prize competition. Current rules for the prize stipulate that the winner must land on the moon and perform specific tasks by the end of March. In theory, the successful Electron flight places the completion of a lunar mission by the deadline for Moon Express inside the realm of possibility.

Neither Rocket Lab nor Moon Express has given a date for a launch attempt. However, even if it misses the deadline, Moon Express has vowed to make the flight anyway. Its goals go beyond winning a prize competition. It aims to develop a low-cost transportation system to allow customers to send payloads, first to the moon, and then to destinations throughout the solar system at an affordable price.