Rocket Lab to Launch from Kaitorete Spit
New Zealand company Rocket Lab says it plans to build its own launch site – the world’s first commercial orbital launch range – on Kaitorete Spit in Canterbury by the end of the year.
The Kaitorete spot was previously used by NASA for suborbital rocket launches in the 1960s. Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said the New Zealand location provides technical, logistical and economic advantages – for example, the ability to put satellites into a wide range of orbital inclinations, the relaxed regulatory environment and reduced pressure from air and sea traffic.
Rocket Lab’s launch system is optimised for putting a small payload – up to 100kg – into a sun-synchronous orbit for US$4.9 million. Its Electron rocket is built using carbon composites and powered by Rutherford engines that make use of electric turbo-pumps and 3D-printed components.
The Los Angeles-based company was founded in 2008 and counts Lockheed Martin, Khosla Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners among its investors. Rocket Lab hasn’t revealed who its customers will be, but Beck said that the company has a “number of customers willing to fly” with them.
Original article by Alan Boyle, NBC News, July 1, 2015.
Photo by Rocket Lab.