New Zealand has never had a space program but could soon be launching commercial rockets more often than the United States. That’s if the plans of California-based company Rocket Lab work out.
Founded by New Zealander Peter Beck, the company was last week given official approval to conduct three test launches from a remote peninsula in the South Pacific nation. Rocket Lab is planning the first launch of its Electron rocket sometime from Monday, depending on conditions.
Rocket Lab hopes to begin commercial launches later this year and eventually launch one rocket every week. It plans to keep costs low by using lightweight, disposable rockets with 3D-printed engines.
It’s a different plan than some other space companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which uses larger rockets to carry bigger payloads.