New Zealand becomes 11th nation to launch rocket into space

New Zealand has become the 11th nation to host a rocket launch, after private company Rocket Lab's carbon fiber Electron rocket took flight Thursday.

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New Zealand has become the 11th nation to host a rocket launch, after private company Rocket Lab’s carbon fiber Electron rocket took flight Thursday.

The company tweeted Thursday afternoon: “Made it to space. Team delighted. More to follow!”

Rocket Lab was given official approval last week to conduct three test launches from the remote Mahia Peninsula. The company hopes to begin commercial launches later this year and eventually launch one rocket every week.

Rocket Lab’s mission is to remove barriers to commercial space by providing frequent launch opportunities. The New Zealand start-up, owned by a US parent company, aims to offer frequent launches to commercial clients at a cost of about 4.9 million dollars.

“Currently, small satellite companies wait years to get on orbit, often at the mercy and schedules of larger payloads,” Beck said earlier this year.

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket uses 3D-printed engines and is designed to send small payloads, such as imaging and communications satellites weighing up to 150 kilograms, into space.

Clients use the satellites to provide services including crop monitoring, weather reporting, natural disaster prediction, up-to-date maritime data and search and rescue services, he said.

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