Rocket arrives for test flight

'In past, it has been countries that go to space, not companies'

'In past, it has been countries that go to space, not companies'

AND COUNTING: The 17-m long Electron at the hangar of Rocket Lab's Launch Complex 1 at Mahia yesterday. Picture supplied
Rocket Lab Stage 1 in operation
Rocket Lab Stage 1 in operation
Rocket Lab - Electron in transit
Rocket Lab - Electron in transit
Rocket Lab - Electron in workshop
Rocket Lab - Electron Stage 1
Rocket Lab - Electron at Launch Complex
ALL ROADS LEAD TO SPACE: The Rocket Lab Mahia launch complex, the roading and infrastructure of which was project managed by CPS. Picture courtesy of Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab Launch Complex Mahia Peninsula
Rocket Lab Launch Complex Mahia Peninsula

THE rocket that could propel New Zealand into the space race — and put Mahia at the centre of it — has been successfully delivered to its Mahia launch facility.

Auckland-based aerospace company Rocket Lab delivered its first Electron rocket to Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 at Onenui Station late on Wednesday night, marking the beginning of pre-flight checkouts. The rocket was trucked to the Mahia Peninsula from Rocket Lab’s Auckland facility.

“It’s an important milestone for our team and for the space industry, both in New Zealand and globally. In past, it has been countries that go to space, not companies,” said Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck. “Since we commenced this project three years ago, our team has accomplished an incredible amount. The vehicle has gone through rigorous qualification and acceptance testing, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 has been completed and major tracking infrastructure has been installed in remote locations.”

Over the coming weeks, a series of tests and checks will be conducted at the site before the rocket, named ‘‘It’s a Test’’, is signed off to fly.

The launch will be the first orbital launch attempt from New Zealand and is the first of three planned test launches before Rocket Lab begins providing customers commercial satellite launches.

In advance of the first test, a series of attempt windows will be announced. Due to the nature of testing, Rocket Lab expects a possibility of “‘scrubbed” launches where the time of launch is delayed, possibly to another day. This could be a result of weather or small modifications to the vehicle.

Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges welcomed the arrival of the rocket on the Mahia Peninsula.

“This is an important milestone for Rocket Lab and a significant step in the development of a New Zealand space industry. We are taking a keen interest in the planned test and commercial launches, and a range of government agencies, led by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), are ensuring launch activities are safe and secure.

“We have the opportunity to leverage off the existence of Rocket Lab to build New Zealand’s capacity and expertise in a range of space-related activities and to support the strategic opportunities likely to flow. There are economic opportunities in the use of space as a whole, not just in a launch industry — space research, materials development and testing, space tourism, weather and atmospheric research.”

Space agency set up in Wellington

A New Zealand Space Agency has been set up under the auspices of MBIE in Wellington. MBIE science, innovation and international general manager Peter Crabtree told The Herald it was envisioned that the Wellington-based agency would act as a regulatory “front door” for New Zealand space activity, which would include more spin-off benefits for Mahia and the wider Gisborne region.

“We anticipate the establishment of Rocket Lab’s facility in Mahia will have many flow-on effects for the region. This could include, but is not limited to, increased employment opportunities within the space industry and the service industries that support it. We’ve already heard reports of businesses within the region benefiting from more customers. There is also potential for increased tourist activity following Rocket Lab’s testing phase.”

THE rocket that could propel New Zealand into the space race — and put Mahia at the centre of it — has been successfully delivered to its Mahia launch facility.

Auckland-based aerospace company Rocket Lab delivered its first Electron rocket to Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 at Onenui Station late on Wednesday night, marking the beginning of pre-flight checkouts. The rocket was trucked to the Mahia Peninsula from Rocket Lab’s Auckland facility.

“It’s an important milestone for our team and for the space industry, both in New Zealand and globally. In past, it has been countries that go to space, not companies,” said Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck. “Since we commenced this project three years ago, our team has accomplished an incredible amount. The vehicle has gone through rigorous qualification and acceptance testing, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 has been completed and major tracking infrastructure has been installed in remote locations.”

Over the coming weeks, a series of tests and checks will be conducted at the site before the rocket, named ‘‘It’s a Test’’, is signed off to fly.

The launch will be the first orbital launch attempt from New Zealand and is the first of three planned test launches before Rocket Lab begins providing customers commercial satellite launches.

In advance of the first test, a series of attempt windows will be announced. Due to the nature of testing, Rocket Lab expects a possibility of “‘scrubbed” launches where the time of launch is delayed, possibly to another day. This could be a result of weather or small modifications to the vehicle.

Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges welcomed the arrival of the rocket on the Mahia Peninsula.

“This is an important milestone for Rocket Lab and a significant step in the development of a New Zealand space industry. We are taking a keen interest in the planned test and commercial launches, and a range of government agencies, led by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), are ensuring launch activities are safe and secure.

“We have the opportunity to leverage off the existence of Rocket Lab to build New Zealand’s capacity and expertise in a range of space-related activities and to support the strategic opportunities likely to flow. There are economic opportunities in the use of space as a whole, not just in a launch industry — space research, materials development and testing, space tourism, weather and atmospheric research.”

Space agency set up in Wellington

A New Zealand Space Agency has been set up under the auspices of MBIE in Wellington. MBIE science, innovation and international general manager Peter Crabtree told The Herald it was envisioned that the Wellington-based agency would act as a regulatory “front door” for New Zealand space activity, which would include more spin-off benefits for Mahia and the wider Gisborne region.

“We anticipate the establishment of Rocket Lab’s facility in Mahia will have many flow-on effects for the region. This could include, but is not limited to, increased employment opportunities within the space industry and the service industries that support it. We’ve already heard reports of businesses within the region benefiting from more customers. There is also potential for increased tourist activity following Rocket Lab’s testing phase.”

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