Rocket Lab eyes Birdling's Flat, Canterbury, as launch site
A remote Canterbury paddock could launch New Zealand into the space race.
A paddock near Birdlings Flat has been chosen by
If the venture succeeds New Zealand would join countries such as Iran, Israel, India, North and South Korea and Argentina, as well as the great powers, in staging a successful rocket launch.
What is revolutionary is Rocket Lab's plan to create rockets for under $US5 million, allowing smaller companies, research and environmental groups to launch their own satellites into space.
"We're looking at the democratisation of space," said Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck.
Last year 19 orbital rockets were launched in the United States at an average cost of $132m each - a price affordable only to governments and major corporations.
Rocket Lab's ambitious project hinged on
Beck said New Zealand had never launched an orbital rocket before.
However, the site at
Easy access to Christchurch was also important as the US-owned company wanted to establish a rocket manufacturing plant there.
"We're looking at creating 200 jobs," Beck said.
Rockets, about one metre in size, would carry satellites into space for commercial customers. The company had over 30 launches booked already, he said.
Beck said preparations were under way to submit resource consent applications to Christchurch City Council for the launch site.
The proposal has attracted concern about the potential impact on the environment from the Green Party.
"The launch activities potentially disturb wildlife."
Sage said local residents were concerned about the potential impact of a launch on access to conservation reserves and
Applications for three consents from Rocket Lab were lodged with Environment Canterbury on June 15.
These consents are to discharge contaminants to air, discharge stormwater, and to provide a coastal permit for temporary occupation of the coastal marine area associated with the operation of a rocket launching complex.
Beck said the company would be working with affected parties.
"This is an announcement of our intentions so we are at the start of the process and will be working with all the relevant parties," Beck said.
He said the launch site would be no bigger than a tennis court and would have minimal impact on the land.
Rocket launches were loud, but the noise was for a very short time.
"People don't realise how critically reliant we are on satellites."
Rocket Lab's Electron rocket was built to launch low earth orbit satellites, which had a
This made them more sustainable than geo
This story has been corrected to note that many countries have been the staging ground for rocket launches.