Rocket Lab inks deal to commence commercial satellite launches in New Zealand this year

Images by Alistair Guthrie
Space is now open for business with Rocket Lab signing a new deal that will see the Kiwi space aeronautics company launch up to 12 satellites into orbit during 2016/2017.

The Spire satellites, designed to provide weather and ship tracking information to the maritime industry,  will be delivered into orbit via Rocket Lab’s 18 meter tall Electron rocket, which can provide launches for as little as US$50,000 and carry payloads of up to 150 kilograms.

Rocket Lab is currently in the process of building a launchpad south of Gisborne at Mahia Peninsula, with the first test launches of the Electron set to occur in the middle of 2016.

Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, told Idealog in 2015 that the New Zealand location of the launchpad has nothing to do with patriotism. 

“If the best place in the world to launch rockets was in the middle of a desert that’s where I’d be – it’s that simple. But it turns out that launching satellites into space is best done from right here, in New Zealand.”

“When we shoot, there’s nothing there: no air traffic, no population, no shipping, just nothing. In America, if you said you wanted to launch a satellite once a week they’d laugh at you because there’s shipping, there’s a ton of flights, there’s people, there’s everything everywhere. So New Zealand’s only advantage of being a small island nation in the middle of nowhere is if you want to launch rockets. It’s perfect!”

“Space is open for business.”

The value of the deal has not been disclosed.

For more on Rocket Lab’s commercial space programme read Idealog’s full interview with Peter Beck here.