The Wairoa District coastline is home to Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1, the world’s first and only private orbital launch site.
Rocket Lab is the world’s leading dedicated small satellite launch provider. Since 2017, Rocket Lab has been providing frequent and reliable access to space for small satellites with the Electron launch vehicle, a world-leading rocket that changed the way we access space. The satellites Rocket Lab launches enable a range of capabilities in space. They help us monitor weather and understand our climate, they enable scientific research and education, they provide communication services around the globe, and so much more.
Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 is the world’s first – and only - private orbital launch site. Mahia’s remote location makes it perfect for launching rockets. There’s very little marine and air traffic, and a wide range of launch angles. All of that adds up to make a launch site than can support frequent launches, making it easier than ever before for small satellites to get to space.
Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 was completed in late 2016 and began operations with its first Electron launch in May 2017. Rocket Lab in Mahia has led to the job creation of several dozen roles in engineering, launch pad operations, logistics, administrative support, and more, as well as a network of more than 300 local suppliers in engineering and consulting services, accommodation, catering, fuel and utilities, componentry, and construction services. Through direct employment and a vast network of local suppliers throughout the Wairoa District and elsewhere, Rocket Lab has become a significant contributor to the local economies of Mahia, Wairoa, and Hawke’s Bay regions.
Interested in working at Rocket Lab? Check out some of their open roles in Mahia and elsewhere on their website.
The best location to watch a launch is near Nuhaka at the beach at the end of Blucks Pit Road. Have a look at the map below for the exact location, as there is no road signage available.
Scrubs and postponements are likely during launch windows, so visitors to the Blucks Pit viewing site should anticipate multiple postponements, sometimes across several days.
Please be advised that parking and facilities are limited and no toilets are available.
Rocket viewing site at Blucks Pit
A great way to view a launch is via Rocket Lab’s live video webcast. This offers the best views of launch and includes helpful commentary about the launch process. A livestream will be made available approximately 15-20 minutes prior to a launch attempt.
Rocket Lab is determined to be the leader in the space industry when it comes to the sustainable use of space – as well as the environment closer to home down here on Earth.
The Electron rocket contains no toxic, explosive, or radioactive materials, nor are nay such materials stored or used at the Rocket Lab launch site in Mahia. Electron’s Rutherford engines use a mix of liquid oxygen (which is obtained out of the air) and kerosene similar to what is used in planes. The cloud seen at the base of the Electron rocket when it lifts off is not smoke – it’s actually steam! This is generated by water being sprayed at the base of the rocket during launch to dampen the noise from lift-off, and the heat from the engines turns this water into steam.
Rocket Lab is conscious of the way it collects, uses, and manages water at Launch Complex 1, and has developed a sustainable system that makes use of rainwater and sees no wastewater flow to the sea. Rainwater from all the buildings at Launch Complex 1 is collected in concrete water tanks, the same system that is used for rural private homes. This water is then reused in the kitchen and bathrooms. The launch site is fitted with a three-chamber eco waste system that filters human waste and channels the filtered water to through perforated tubes to a field. This is a very modern and eco-friendly version of the domestic septic systems at regular homes. At Range Control any human waste and grey water is collected in a sewerage collection tank and removed from the site for safe and licensed disposal at a waste treatment facility.
The only substances stored at Launch Complex 1 are liquid oxygen, highly refined kerosene, nitrogen, water, and regular petrol for the cars and generators on site. These substances are all regularly found on many commercial premises, and none of these substances are stored in enough volume to pose an environmental risk. Even so, soil samples are regularly collected from Launch Complex 1 and tested by an independent laboratory to ensure no contamination of any kind occurs. The soil profile at Launch Complex 1 has remained unchanged since launches began in 2017.
With a perfect view of the Electron rocket you can enjoy a family picnic. But in the meantime, check out what it’s like to experience viewing a rocket launch from the Blucks Pit viewing area.
|9 Paul Street, Wairoa 4108
|PO Box 54, Wairoa 4160, Hawke’s Bay
|8:30 am - 4:30 pm
|Weekends and public holidays
|10:00 am - 4:00 pm
|CLOSED Christmas Day
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