Rocket Lab's first rocket arrives at Mahia Peninsula launch site
The rocket has reached the launch site, but the final countdown is yet to begin.
Aspiring Kiwi satellite launch company Rocket Lab has transported its first space vehicle from its Auckland factory to a remote launch site at the tip of Mahia Peninsula in northern Hawke's Bay.
The rocket – named It's a Test – will undergo weeks of commissioning and tests before being blasted into space at a yet-to-be-determined date.
Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck said after ten years of development it was exciting to see it all come together and have a launch vehicle out on the pad.
* Law could stop you taking photos if a rocket crashes
* We're (almost) go for Kiwi rocket launch
* Rocket Lab boss Peter Beck wins entrepreneur of the year
* Rocket Lab looks to full testing after ticking final technical box
* Airways hopes rocket launch will be 'first of many'
But Beck was keen to dampen the enthusiasm of any rocket spotters thinking of racing to Mahia to take in the company's maiden blast-off – the first orbital launch attempt from New Zealand.
The launch would go ahead "when we're ready," he said, and while a series of "attempt windows" would be made public, there was the possibility planned launch times could be "scrubbed" at the last minute due to weather or technical issues.
"We appreciate and understand everyone's excited about it but we're just trying to let our engineers get through their testing programme," he said.
"At Nasa they still scrub relatively frequently."
Rocket Lab is planning three test launches before it begins providing a commercial satellite launching service to paying customers.
"There's a good reason why we've called the vehicle It's a Test – this is just an extension of our test programme. We've moved out of ground tests and now we're moving into flight tests."
Economic development minister Simon Bridges said the rocket's arrival at the launch site marked an important milestone for Rocket Lab and a significant step in the development of New Zealand's space industry.
"We have the opportunity to leverage off the existence of Rocket Lab to build New Zealand's capacity and expertise in a range of space-related activities and to support the strategic opportunities that are likely to flow," he said.