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Viewing a launch
of rocket lab’s
About Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab’s mission is to make space
accessible by providing frequent,
affordable launches to low Earth orbit.
Rocket Lab was founded in 2006 by
New Zealander Peter Beck and in 2009
launched Atea 1 – the first rocket to reach
space from the Southern Hemisphere.
In addition to New Zealand’s first orbital launch site located
on the Māhia Peninsula, the company has operations in both
Auckland and Los Angeles.
Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1
Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 is located on the tip of the
Māhia Peninsula. The complex is the first orbital launch site in
New Zealand, and the first privately operated orbital launch site
globally. The remote location of Launch Complex 1 – particularly
its low volume of air and marine traffic – is a key factor in
enabling unprecedented access to space. The geographic
position of the site means it is possible to access a large range
of orbital azimuths – satellites launched from Māhia can be
delivered to a wide range of inclinations to provide services
across many areas around the world.
VISITING LAUNCH COMPLEX 1
Members of the public are not permitted to visit the Launch
Complex on a casual basis. Access to the Launch Complex is via
a private road. As the site is operational and there are safety
hazards present, Rocket Lab will treat any instances of trespass
Electron is Rocket Lab’s latest launch vehicle. Using
Electron, Rocket Lab will launch satellites primarily used
to house imaging and communications technologies.
Rocket Lab’s customers use these satellites to provide
services including optimised crop monitoring, improved
weather reporting, Internet from space, natural disaster
prediction, up-to-date maritime data and search and
Electron is an entirely carbon-composite vehicle that
uses Rocket Lab’s 3D-printed Rutherford engines for its
main propulsion system. Electron is capable of delivering
payloads of up to 150 kg to a 500 km sun-synchronous
orbit – the target range for the high growth constellationsatellite market. With a dedicated launch priced at
NZ$7.6 million, Electron is the most affordable small
satellite launch vehicle. Customers
signed to fly on Electron include NASA, Planet, Spire and
AERIAL OF ROCKET LAB LAUNCH COMPLEX 1 | Māhia Peninsula, 2016
SATELLITES LAUNCHED FROM
MĀHIA CAN BE DELIVERED
TO A WIDE RANGE OF
INCLINATIONS TO PROVIDE
SERVICES ACROSS MANY
AREAS AROUND THE WORLD.
TURNING THE SOIL
Māhia Peninsula, December 2015
How will each phase work?
THE TEST PHASE
During the test phase the focus for Rocket Lab will be on
safety, optimising logistics with local residents and preparing
the launch vehicle for flight.
Like any product, the Electron vehicle will go through a series
of tests before it is commercially available. It is anticipated
there will be around three test flights of the rocket during
which the vehicle is checked and qualified. Due to the nature
of testing, it is assumed that planned take-offs will be
postponed or scrubbed, i.e. rescheduled to another day.
Test launches will be publicly notified.
THE COMMERCIAL PHASE
Once the vehicle meets the technical specifications to fly
customers’ payloads, the commercial phase will begin. While
scrubs are always possible, commercial launches will largely
occur at set take-off times.
Launch days will be determined by several factors, not limited
to weather, air traffic and customer requirements (launch
azimuth). Details of viewing a commercial launch will be
advertised publicly well in advance of a launch. The Wairoa
District Council is evaluating establishing viewing platforms
and providing facilities for viewing launches during this time.
Updates will be available at www.rocketlab.co.nz.
Viewing a Launch
Due to the likelihood of postponed
or scrubbed launches during the test
phase, Rocket Lab recommends viewing
a launch in the commercial phase – we
value your time and wouldn’t want to
keep you waiting.
During a launch, safety requirements mean some areas at the
end of the Māhia Peninsula will be closed to the public. There
will be minimum safe distances for vessels and aircraft also.
These will be published prior to any launch.
where can I view a launch
Wairoa District Council are evaluating the location of viewing
areas. Logistics and visibility will be assessed during the test
phase, and will inform arrangements for viewing during the
As Rocket Lab’s top priority is public safety, there are safety
zones in place during a launch and no access will be permitted
to Onenui Station. Temporary road closures will be in place for
traffic management and to ensure the safety of vehicles on the
Māhia East Coast Road.
Launch Complex 1 is not visible during a launch from any
publicly-accessible point on the Māhia Peninsula.
Temporary limitations will apply to the airspace over the site.
Pilots and airlines will be advised by Airways NZ ahead of time
through the AIP and Airways IFIS, and given details on the day
through the standard NOTAM process.
Rocket Lab will also be requesting exclusive use of an area
of water around the launch site for a brief period around the
launch window. This will be publicly advertised and available
via a Notice to Mariners. Our team continue to consult and
work with recreational and commercial users of the area.
Rocket Lab will announce the decision to scrub a launch
as soon as possible after it is made in order to reduce the
burden on marine and air traffic. The size of safety zones
will be reduced during the commercial phase, as the rocket
demonstrates its reliability.