Space Coast New Zealand is part of the Wairoa District coastline from which space launches can be viewed. South Islander Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, chose the very tip of the Mahia peninsula as the perfect spot for the world's first and only private commercial orbital launch site: Launch Complex 1.
Since its incorporation in 2006, Rocket Lab aims to improve life on Earth by frequently launching their Electron Rocket which has customer payloads on board. These payloads are small satellites which have become more affordable over the years. Because Rocket Lab is able to deliver frequent, tailored launch services for their customers, space is now better accessible.
Launch Complex 1, opened in October 2016, is the first orbital launch site in New Zealand. The remote geographic location offers a low volume of air and marine traffic and a large range of inclinations to provide services across the world. Here Rocket Lab is able to launch Electron 120 times per year.
First Test Launch - It's a Test
On May 25 2017, Electron made history as the first orbital-class launch vehicle to reach space from a private launch facility. The launch, named It's a Test, was the first test launch of Rocket Lab's Electron rocket.
Second Test Launch - Still Testing
On January 21 2018, Rocket Lab reached orbit with the launch of the Electron vehicle and successfully deployed the company’s first commercial payloads. The flight, named Still Testing, marked a significant milestone in eliminating commercial barriers and ushering in a new era of unprecedented access to space.
It's Business Time
On November 11 2018, Rocket Lab launched seven payloads to orbit. The mission marked Rocket Lab's second successful orbital launch and deployment of customer satellites.
The Wairoa District Council has allocated a viewing area for people to safely view a launch. The area near Nuhaka is accessible via Blucks Pit Road - have a look at the map below for the exact location.
It’s important to note that scrubs and postponements are likely during a launch window, so visitors should anticipate some waiting time.
Rocket viewing site at Blucks Pit
A livestream is also available during a launch window which will go live approximately 20 minutes before a launch attempt. The link to this webcast will be posted on Rocket Lab’s Facebook and Twitter pages and will be viewable on their website and YouTube channel as well.
Details about the next launch scheduled from Launch Complex 1 are yet to be announced.
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.
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