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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Zealand to launch first private rocket into space

Privately owned New Zealand aerospace company Rocket Lab has just completed the first phase of testing of its Ātea-1 launch vehicle, with its first high altitude launch scheduled for the end of this month.

The team has spent the past four months carrying out tests of their innovative rocket motor in the jet engine test cell of the nation's national air carrier, Air New Zealand. “It’s an ideal facility, which has allowed us to control a lot of the variables and push ahead fast,” says Peter Beck, Rocket Lab technical director.

Air New Zealand Gas Turbines manager Richard Ison says Air New Zealand is happy to help the Rocket Lab pioneers. “We can obviously identify with what they are doing – a small Kiwi company taking on the big established players, and having a fresh approach that simply blows right through the barriers of conventional thinking. And we’re very happy to support a genuine environmental breakthrough. The emissions from this engine are non-toxic as opposed to the traditional launch platforms, so it would be great to see Rocket Lab winning a big share of this market.”


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