Press Release

Construction begins on Rocket Lab’s Orbital Launch Site

By SpaceRef Editor
December 21, 2015
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Rocket Lab began construction of an orbital launch site on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula last week.
The site will be home to the first launch of Rocket Lab’s Electron vehicle, designed to lift a 150kg payload to a 500km sun-synchronous orbit. Construction of the site will be completed in the first quarter of 2016 in preparation for the test flights of Electron.

“Rocket Lab’s mission is to make space accessible by providing frequent, affordable and dedicated launch,” says Peter Beck, Rocket Lab CEO. “The unique location and isolation of the Mahia Peninsula is one component in making that goal achievable.”

The Mahia Peninsula is on the East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Due to the area’s low population and New Zealand’s minimal air and sea traffic, it is possible to launch from the site at a significantly more frequent rate than other sites. Eventually, Rocket Lab plans to launch from the Mahia site multiple times a month.

“Currently, lead-times to reach orbit are years. As a result, the growth of Small Satellite companies has been limited by the difficulty in getting assets on orbit. With the launch frequency possible from Mahia, Rocket Lab is one major step closer to its goal of making space accessible to businesses,” says Beck.

When the site is completed, Rocket Lab will be the first commercial company to build and operate an orbital range. “A large part of being able to provide the most affordable launch service in our vehicle class is the ability to operate our own launch sites,” says Beck.
From the Mahia site it is possible to reach a wide range of orbital azimuths. This enables customers to reach their chosen, dedicated orbits ranging from 39 degrees through to polar and sun-synchronous orbits.

Electron will launch Small Satellites and CubeSats that can be used for services including internet from space, weather monitoring, maritime data collection, crop optimisation and natural disaster management.

Rocket Lab recently announced two new customers MoonExpress and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

About Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab’s mission is to remove the barriers to commercial space. The company was founded on the belief that small payloads require dedicated small launch vehicles and the flexibility not currently offered by traditional rocket systems. Since its creation in 2007 by Peter Beck, Rocket Lab has delivered a range of complete rocket systems and technologies for fast and affordable payload deployment. Rocket Lab is a privately funded company, with major investors including Khosla Ventures, K1W1, Bessemer Venture Partners and Lockheed Martin. For more information, visit http://www.rocketlabusa.com/.

SpaceRef staff editor.