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'Wairoa - Gateway to the Galaxy'

A Kiwi-founded rocket company is seeking to establish a launch base on Mahia Peninsula where it will launch international satellites into space.

Today’s Wairoa Star reports Auckland-based company Rocket Lab has started the process to develop a second launch site at Onenui Station, on the southern tip of the Mahia peninsula, on land owned by the Tawapata South Maori Incorporation.

The Mahia site would be in addition to a site in Canterbury and has been advanced because Rocket Lab’s customer commitments have increased.

Rocket Lab designs small satellite launch systems and has begun to consult with local residents and is preparing to submit a resource consent application.

Shane Fleming of Rocket Lab told the Wairoa Star the company was looking forward to working with the community and gauging interest in a potential launch site on Mahia Peninsula.

Huge potential for a technological futureGisborne Mayor Meng Foon congratulates Wairoa and fully supports this new project.

“As close neighbours we will get some benefit through the airport and other support services. This project has the potential to embed the East Coast region as the technology capital of the country,” said Mr Foon.

The Wairoa Star reported Rocket Lab’s mission is to remove commercial barriers to space, making space accessible by providing frequent and affordable launch opportunities.

Rocket Lab uses 3D printing, electric turbo-pumps and carbon composite structures to produce advanced, affordable launch vehicles.

The company’s Electron Rocket will launch satellites used for services including crop monitoring, resource management and weather prediction, GPS, scientific research, internet from space and natural disaster prediction and warning.

Tawapata South Maori Incorporation spokesman George Mackey is excited Rocket Lab is considering Onenui Station as an additional site.

“Wouldn’t it be great to have a sign up that says ‘Wairoa — Gateway to the Galaxy?’

“When I think about all this, I am left with this sense that our community will be linked to the development of these new innovative celestial waka. It’s quite exciting really.

“We are speaking with major shareholders seeking their support for this new opportunity for our community and we’re keen to support Rocket Lab in communicating their vision, not only for their business but also for our community,” Mr Mackey says.

Rocket Lab was the first private company in the Southern Hemisphere to reach space.

Changes in the space business have seen a move away from big satellites and instead smaller, lighter, more readily-available and cheaper satellites are used.

Small satellites boomingThe small satellite business is described as booming and there is a vast demand for appropriate launch sites. The actual launch pad is around the size of half a tennis court.

The Rocket Lab crew scoured the world looking for perfect launch sites and came up with Mahia Peninsula and Birdlings Flat, about 44km southeast of Christchurch in Canterbury.

The Wairoa site was visited in April but initially the Canterbury site was chosen because it offered a better logistical operation.

The Mahia site was never ruled out and demand from customers has now opened the door for the Mahia site to be pursued.

A benefit of the Mahia site is it provides a great launch corridor for the 16-metre-tall 10-tonne Electron rockets.

Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd said his staff were continuing discussions with Rocket Lab to see what infrastructure needs they might have.

It was a fantastic opportunity for the region, he said.

Gisborne Chamber of Commerce president Gavin Murphy said the chamber looked forward to supporting Rocket Lab any way it could.



Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck at the unveiling of the Electron, the world's first carbon composite launch vehicle. It is intended to reduce the price of launching satellites into orbit. New Zealand Herald picture
NZ in space
NZ in space
Mahia may soon be rocketing into the future