Rocket Lab has unveiled the details of its Electron launch system, said to be the world’s first battery-powered rocket.

Powered by the company’s new 4,600lbf Rutherford engine, the carbon-composite orbital launch vehicle has a lift-off mass of 10,500kg, and is said to allow high-frequency launches of small satellites.

The 20m-long Electron is designed to deliver payloads of up to 100kg to a 500km sun-synchronous orbit.

According to Rocket Lab, the launch vehicle will cost satellite launchers $4.9m per launch, creating increased access to space.

"Electron makes it possible for us to continue to execute on our vision to enable easier access to space."

Rocket CEO Peter Beck said: "With Electron, companies can launch whenever they would like, at a substantially more affordable cost."

With a new electric propulsion cycle, the Rutherford engines use brushless DC electric motors and lithium-polymer batteries to drive turbopumps.

The oxygen/hydrocarbon engine’s chamber, injector, pumps and main propellant valves are made of 3D printed structures.

The upper stage of Electron vehicle is designed in such a way that it separates the payload integration from the main booster assembly.

Rocket Lab will be able to use the integrated payloads with the main booster, eliminating the risk of cascading delays.

Beck said: "Electron makes it possible for us to continue to execute on our vision to enable easier access to space.

"As more small satellite companies are able to quickly reach orbit, we will see immense advancements in communication and imaging technologies, which has the potential to drastically change our world, from improved traffic reporting to crop planning to even mitigating the life-threatening damages of natural disasters."

Privately funded Rocket Lab was established in 2008 with its major investors, including Khosla Ventures, K1W1, Bessemer Venture Partners and Lockheed Martin.