Kiwis Fly! Rocket Labs Launches First Commercial Rocket

It’s Business Time in the skies above NZ

Look – up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

It’s a KIWI?!

That’s right, New Zealand-based space rocket company Rocket Lab has successfully launched its first commercial delivery into orbit.

Their mission: to choicely go where no bro has gone before.

The start-up fired one of its 17-metre Electron rockets from the Mahia Peninsula in the North Island about 5pm on Sunday (local time), dropping off its first fully-fledged business payload - six satellites and an experimental piece of technology for five clients - in space about an hour later.

The mission has been dubbed "It's Business Time" – presumably in a tribute to New Zealand’s other great flight, Flight of the Conchords.

I know what you’re trying to say, you’re trying to say it’s time for business (Image: Twitter/Rocket Lab)
I know what you’re trying to say, you’re trying to say it’s time for business (Image: Twitter/Rocket Lab)

The US-owned Rocket Lab runs the world's first privately-owned launch facility and focuses on getting small deliveries into orbit at relatively low costs.

Sundays live-streamed take-off was the third attempt at the mission after technical issues in April and June. Those followed a successful test in January.

he mission's final manifest included the late addition of two satellites from South Australia's Fleet Space Technologies, in what is also the first launch of commercial "CubeSats" - miniature satellites - from an Australian company.

It’s just a shame that we Aussies haven’t beaten New Zealand into space. Space should be our speciality. That vast expanse of nothingness – it’s basically the Nullarbor Plain at night.

Unfortunately, even though we’ve now launched our own space agency (which is not in fact called ARSE), we are still struggling with working out how to get a ute into orbit.

Though at least we've finally launched a meat pie into the stratosphere. Oi oi oi!

Earlier this year, Rocket Lab founder and chief Peter Beck described the mission as a milestone in the global space industry and said it marked the beginning of commercial operations to get small satellites into orbit.

The Electron rockets use 3D-printed engines and can carry payloads up to about 150kg.

To meet swelling bookings for this year and next, the company has rapidly scaled up production at its California headquarters.

It's also constructing a second launch pad on the east coast of the US.

Rocket Lab hopes to complete a launch every two weeks in 2019 and weekly in 2020. The schedule for the next mission will be announced shortly.

With AAP