Wicked. I really hope it'll be possible to watch a launch or three from some nearby viewing area. That would be cool.
If you can find your way to the end of the Mahia Peninsular, you'll probably see something, but its incredibly remote - that was the whole idea!
You would probably get a reasonably good (although distant) view of rockets being launched from the beach about three kilometres west of Nuhaka. There is a side-road off SH2 which runs out to a crushed-metal plant on the beach. Although there is a locked gate, a short walking track runs around the metal plant to the beach. Otherwise, it is a long drive out to Mahia Beach settlement on Mahia Peninsula, then a further very long drive over a very windy gravel road (Mahia East Coast Road) down along the top of the peninsula to where the rocket launch site is being built. It would probably be an hour-and-a-half drive from SH2, with most of it over very rugged country. Hence the reason why you'd be best to watch launches from the coastline, west of Nuhaka.
If you aren't living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space!
Post by kiwithrottlejockey on Sept 20, 2016 13:59:52 GMT 12
from the Sunday Star-Times....
New Zealand space industry prepared for takeoff
The country's conditions just so happen to be exactly what you want to launch rockets.
By HAMISH MCNICOL | 5:00AM - Sunday, 18 September 2016
New Zealand is about to become just the 11th country to put a satellite into orbit. — Photograph: NASA.
NEW ZEALAND, seen as the nation of cows, could soon become the nation with the highest frequency of space launches anywhere in the world.
A clunky way for it to be framed, maybe, but this was Rocket Lab boss Peter Beck's vision for the country, about to become just the 11th to put a satellite into orbit.
It sounded ambitious: “If you look at the other 10, the majority of those are super powers,” Beck said.
But support for a New Zealand space industry has grown, and some have suggested all systems are go for its takeoff.
And with it already estimated to have a potential economic impact worth $1.5 billion over the next 20 years, the call has gone out for other companies to take advantage.
This month, state-owned Airways, the provider of air traffic control services for the country, and Rocket Lab signed a deal to ensure regular rocket launches here could be safe.
Airways chief operating officer Pauline Lamb says space companies just need to take a “deeper look” at New Zealand. — Photograph: Iain McGregor/Fairfax NZ.
Rocket Lab planned to do up to 100 launches into space a year, and Airways chief operating officer Pauline Lamb said at the time the country was positioning itself as the ideal place to access space from.
“Hopefully it's the first of many.”
This week, Lamb said other space companies just needed to take a “deeper look” at the country for its appeal to become obvious.
A relatively uncongested airspace and an appetite for new technologies, meant Airways had already helped about 120 near-space launches in New Zealand airspace, and NASA and Google had both chosen the country for balloon launches.
“I think the industry's changing from the days where you had NASA launching rockets, now other people launch rockets and it's not one size fits all,” Lamb said.
“We recognise that here in New Zealand and we can adapt to whatever the requirement is.”
New Zealand could soon be the country with the highest frequency of rocket launches in the world. — Photograph: NASA.
This meant balloons, drones, rockets, whatever — although how the local industry would expand was difficult to predict.
She mentioned Airways had been approached by a few drone companies to try things here, but overall her message was clear.
“Please come here and try it out.”
Lamb also pushed the work of the Government, which in June said it was putting in place a new regulatory regime to enable safe, secure and responsible space launches from the country.
Economic Development minister Steven Joyce said the space economy was becoming immensely important.
“There is the opportunity to build New Zealand's capacity and expertise across a broad spectrum of space and high altitude activities, from rocket technology to the use of satellites to perform functions that benefit our economy, environment and society; as well as attracting offshore talent and investment.”
Lane Neave corporate solicitor Maria Pozza, a specialist space and aviation lawyer, says New Zealand is set to become a space-faring nation.
Lane Neave corporate solicitor Maria Pozza, a specialist space and aviation lawyer, said the new legislation regarding activities in outer space and launching from New Zealand not only safeguarded the country's interests, but also demonstrated to the world the infrastructure was in place for space businesses to come here.
Foreign companies would therefore “seriously begin” to consider New Zealand, she said.
“It is realistic that New Zealand will become a space hub, especially for small satellite launches and operations as a result of its geographical location, excellent governance structures and reputation for technological ingenuity.”
“New Zealand is set to become a space-faring nation.”
Beck from Rocket Lab has a slightly different take on what a New Zealand space industry looked like, and it was not necessarily one which had competing operators.
“That's not what we want, that's the opposite of what we want.”
But he conceded he has fielded a “number of conversations” from some very large companies, and said his company had “certainly paved the way” for others.
Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck says the growth in space for New Zealand will come from the utilisation of space and space assets, not launching them.
The company's site on Mahia Peninsula, which is on the East Coast south of Gisborne, was the first private orbital launch range in the world, licensed to launch every 72 hours for the next 30 years.
There was a strong geographical reason for the United States company to base itself in New Zealand, he said, which basically came down to it being an area quiet enough to allow regular commercial launches.
But the launch site it settled on, having flirted with one in Canterbury, also provided it with a wide launch range the equivalent of the West and East Coast of America combined.
“When you go and put a satellite in orbit it's not just about going to space, you've got to get it exactly in the right point.”
“It's the one advantage of New Zealand being a small, island nation in the middle of nowhere — that just happens to be exactly what you want when you go to launch rockets.”
New Zealand's features are exactly what you want for launching rockets. — Photograph: Robert Kitchin/Fairfax NZ.
In July, Rocket Lab signed up United States technology company Planet for at least satellite launches, using Rocket Lab's Electron rocket.
The 18-metre tall Electron rocket was designed to send satellites into orbit for as little as US$50,000 (NZ$68,000) — “materially” cheaper than the alternatives.
“When we launch later this year and early next, as a company we'll become only the second private company in the history of the planet to have ever put a satellite in orbit,” Beck said.
This was where he saw the real growth opportunity for New Zealand — not more launch sites, but around what launches enabled other businesses and people to do.
A report from Sapere Research Group in June found Rocket Lab's establishment of a rocket launch industry in New Zealand would contribute between $600m and $1.55b to the economy over the next 20 years.
Beck said the small satellite industry was the highest growth area in the space industry at the moment, with many people unaware how much it influence their daily lives — from television to communications.
Rocket Lab was fully-booked for launches next year, and 2018 was headed the same way.
“Satellites are geographically agnostic so all you need is a bunch of smart guys with a good business plan and you can really go after some big markets in the satellite industry.”
“The growth area for New Zealand is going to be around the utilisation of space and space assets, not launching them.”
I have NEVER heard of New Zealand being referred to as 'the nation of cows'. WTF?
I can remember an American dairy farmer (from Pennsylvania if I recall correctly) who approached me at Wellington Railway Station one morning a few years ago and asked if he could have a look in the locomotive cab before the train departed. He was off a cruise ship and was travelling with his wife on a day trip to Wairarapa while the ship was docked in Wellington for the day. He told me that American dairy farmers saw the NZ dairy industry as a real threat, because we produced a huge proportion of the milk produced in the world. I cannot remember if it was a quarter, or a fifth, or whatever, but it was something like that. I didn't believe him, so went looking on the internet after I got home and was shocked to discover that this American dairy farmers was correct. As a matter of interest, he was also impressed with the way we transport bulk milk by train to giant dairy factories. So I guess that is why some people in the world see us as being a nation of cows. And as a matter of interest, this rocket company isn't really a New Zealand company at all; it is actually an American company who have selected New Zealand as the ideal location to launch satellites from.
If you aren't living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space!
Post by kiwithrottlejockey on Sept 27, 2016 11:59:22 GMT 12
from Hawke's Bay Today....
Rocket Lab launch site go for lift-off
By GRANT BRADLEY | 9:30AM - Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab at his company's Auckland headquarters. — Photograph: Michael Craig.
ROCKET LAB has opened its launch site at Mahia — the world's first private orbital launch complex.
The Auckland-based company plans to launch its first test rocket from the site at the tip of the Mahia Peninsula before the end of the year.
The site — in an area with little air traffic — will enable high frequency launches once the Rocket Lab programme gets to a commercial stage.
It will be the primary launch site for the 17-metre tall Electron rocket although lift off from sites overseas are possible.
Other launch pads overseas for rockets going into orbit are government-owned.
“Completing Launch Complex 1 is a significant milestone in the build-up to the first test flight of the Electron vehicle,” said Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck.
The facility was opened today by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.
The opening was also attended by 180 locals, officials, Rocket Lab staff and members of the newly formed New Zealand Space agency within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
Rocket Lab CEO and founder Peter Beck (left) and Steven Joyce, the Minister of Economic Development, in front of the launch system at Mahia Peninsula today. — Photograph: Warren Buckland.
Customers signed to fly on Electron include NASA, Planet, Spire and Moon Express. With a dedicated launch priced at $6.7 million to $7.6 million, Electron will take small satellites into low earth orbit at a fraction of the cost of overseas competitors.
Beck said it was “wonderful” to celebrate the completion of the site with those who had welcomed the company into the community.
Wherever possible, Rocket Lab hired local contractors to develop the site. Facilities at Launch Complex 1 include a vehicle processing hangar where the rocket will be fuelled up with liquid oxygen and kerosene and prepared for launch.
At the other end of the site is a 50-tonne platform standing over 15-meters tall. The platform will tilt forward to lift the rocket to a vertical position prior to launch.
There has been some concerns raised locally and by Greenpeace about the environmental impact of the programme, specifically parts or the rocket falling to earth.
The carbon fibre vehicle weighs over 12-tonnes and is fitted with a kill switch that can be activated by specialist ground crew at the site if it strays off course. Mission control will be at Rocket Lab's base near Auckland Airport.
The company is not putting a date on the first launch, one of three planned test flights before it carries any satellites.
It has warned sightseers that due to the nature of testing, there is a likelihood of ‘scrubbed’ launches.
“Rocket Lab recommends viewing a launch in the commercial phase rather than the test phase — we value your time, and wouldn't want to keep you waiting.”
There was a possibility of a space tourism industry, where facilities are put in for rocket buffs who travel long distances to watch launches.
Rocket Lab says Wairoa District Council is evaluating the location of viewing platforms to be installed for the commercial phase of launches.
Post by kiwithrottlejockey on Sept 28, 2016 12:55:20 GMT 12
from Hawke's Bay Today....
Potential of Mahia rocket launch site ‘astronomical’
By VICTORIA WHITE | 5:36AM - Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Over the past nine months a Mahia Peninsula site has been transformed into Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1. — Photograph: Warren Buckland.
FROM A remote site in Northern Hawke's Bay, the place of New Zealand in the space industry changed yesterday with the opening of the world's first private orbital launch site.
Around 240 people braved wild weather on Mahia Peninsula yesterday to witness Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce officially open the Rocket Lab launch complex 1.
Over the past nine months the Onenui Station site has been transformed — located at the tip of the peninsula, a range control area has been developed, overlooking the launch complex.
In the near future, the Electron rocket will be prepared for launch inside a vehicle processing hangar, before travelling down a runway to a 15m tall launch system, which will tilt forward to lift the rocket into launch position.
The company hope their Electron launch vehicle will blast off from the site before the end of the year for test flights, with commercial flights beginning early to mid-2017.
Yesterday however, the hangar housed a crowd of local officials, Labour leader Andrew Little, landowners of the Onenui Station site, and Rocket Lab team members, there to celebrate the milestone.
Mr Joyce said it was the innovation and perseverance of Rocket Lab chief executive and founder Peter Beck and his team which had made this day possible.
In a speech, Mr Beck told the crowd how after searching the world for a launch site, Onenui Station was chosen last year — from where a number of world firsts would be achieved.
The site's remote location meant “more satellites could be launched, and more often than anywhere in the world”.
It also meant the launch range from the peninsula was one of the largest angles, from where New Zealand would become the 11th nation to ever put a satellite into orbit — with Rocket Lab only the second company to ever do so.
Rocket lab was about making space accessible, Mr Beck said, as at the moment space was reserved for the elite few.
Through the satellites Rocket Lab could launch into space on their multi-million dollar rocket Electron, the lives of people from Hawke's Bay residents, to those in developing nations, could be improved.
“Rocket Lab's not about building a rocket, it's about enabling an entire revolution in space,” he said.
Customers signed to fly on Electron include NASA, Planet, Spire and Moon Express.
The vehicle will carry satellites featuring a range of services — from improved weather reporting, internet from space, natural disaster prediction, and up-to date maritime data.
Currently, the company is working through the qualification of the first stage of the Electron rocket and hopes to begin the test flight phase once qualification and launch licensing are complete.
Yesterday, Wairoa District Council was acknowledged for its role in the site's development, with Mr Joyce saying “I think they hold the record for the fastest consenting on a rocket range in the history of the world”.
Wairoa mayor Craig Little said the facility was huge for the area, “Wairoa is now on the national map, and international map.”
He said it was great to see how everything had come together at the complex, “everyone's excited; you can hear the buzz in the crowd”.
As Rocket Lab had tried to employ local contractors wherever possible, Wairoa businesses had already benefited from the activity on Mahia Peninsula.
Although Mr Beck said local employees had had to come to the site in wet weather, they had done so with immense pride.
“You won't fault any of the workmanship … we're really, really pleased,” he said.
One of these contractors had been Quality Roading and Services from Wairoa, who in only nine days poured the concrete foundation of the hangar, and launch pad, as well as improving 3.5km of roading to the site.
Chief executive officer Mark Browne said the one-off job meant they had around 10 to 15 staff working at the site permanently for around six months.
The contract with Rocket Lab had benefited the company immensely, he said.
“It's a one off job and within that year made a substantive difference to QRS and hopefully it will into the future as well,” he said, adding they were just one of several businesses benefiting from Rocket Lab's presence in Northern Hawke's Bay.
“The potential here is astronomical, I don't think we realised the actual potential we are going to get as a country and for the East Coast,” he said.
Mr Little said now the site had opened there would be more spinoffs for the district.
“It's just going to get better and better,” he said. “I think when the launches become more frequent, obviously more things are going to happen, so we've just got to do one step at a time.”
George Mackey from Tawapata South Maori Incorporation owners of Onenui Station said the success of Rocket Lab would also provide benefit to them, and their shareholders.
The opening yesterday was “another step in the journey”, he said, since ground had been broken on the site last year.
“It's been quite a steady but fast tracked journey it's been very exciting,” he said. “"We've always talked about diversifying but we were probably thinking more bees and honey, rather than rockets.”
“But we'll take it, and it's gone really well to date.”
Yesterday Mr Joyce acknowledged the opportunities the site would bring in regard to tourism, if Mr Beck was able to launch rockets at the rate he hoped.
Local agencies had been working with MBIE to see what could be done to help facilitate that vision.
Mr Little said, “this is the only rocket launching facility this side of the world, so if you want to go and see a rocket launch, where are you going to come?”
Hawke's Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas said the spin-off for tourism could be massive when rockets began launching from the site.
“There is a genuine interest in space tourism around the world and the opportunity to see rockets launch from one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand provides a massive opportunity for Wairoa and the wider Hawke's Bay region as well as Gisborne,” she said.
“We need to assess the opportunity carefully but there is no doubt there will be interest from Kiwis and overseas visitors.”
Mr Little said that although he could imagine people travelling to the site in the hope of viewing a launch, it was “all trial and error”, in terms of how far away they would need to be.
He believed there would be an exclusion zone while Rocket Lab were in the trial phase, which would be around 8km — however he thought this would shrink when commercial flights began.
As today was only milestone in things to come for the company, and for Wairoa, the same is being said for the country.
Mr Joyce said the Rocket Lab site was a step forward, placing New Zealand at the forefront of the space industry.
The company would be a catalyst for other space-related activity in New Zealand. Attracting international players would be easier now as a world leading regulatory regime was being established.
This would be managed by a new NZ Space Agency located within the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment.
The agency had been supporting Rocket Lab in navigating the regulatory environment, and putting in place foundations for an internationally credible, competitive, and well-connected New Zealand based space industry.
They were currently in the process of signing a number of treaties needed for New Zealand “to be a space nation”.
The agency would be capitalising on Rocket Lab launches to help build the country's capacity and expertise in all manner of space related activities, and will support the strategic opportunities that were likely to flow from it.
The new Outer Space and High Altitude Activities Bill was recently introduced to the House, and it is intended to become law by mid-2017.
This would enable the development of a space industry in New Zealand, and provide for the management of certain high altitude activities which took place from the country, and enabled it to manage risks and implement certain international obligations relating to space activities and space technology.
Post by kiwithrottlejockey on Sept 28, 2016 13:21:44 GMT 12
Just as I suspected, the Rocket Lab launch site is right at the southern tip of Mahia Peninsula on the plateau above Ahuriri Point, as shown in the following photograph posted accompanying a news article on the SPACE.com website....
(click on the photograph to open the SPACE.com news article)
If you aren't living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space!