New Zealand is planning its first space program in collaboration with a California-based company to work it out. If completed, it may launch more commercial rockets than the United States.
In an article published in Japan Times, the California-based Rocket Lab was given an official approval last week to conduct three test launches from an isolated peninsula in the South Pacific nation. The company is founded by New Zealander Peter Beck.
Rocket Lab is currently planning New Zealand's first launch of its Electron rocket at some point from Monday, as it depends on the conditions. "For us to do it, and be in the first couple of handfuls of countries in the world, is pretty impressive," Simon Bridges, New Zealand's economic development minister, said.
Bridges also added that so far, only superpower countries are included in the space race. With the Rocket Lab, New Zealand sees a rising market in delivering small devices into the low orbit of Earth. The satellites would also be used for everything from monitoring crops and providing internet service.
The company is hoping to begin its commercial launch at the latter part of the year and would eventually launch a rocket every week for the services in New Zealand. They plan to keep the expenses low by using lightweight, disposable rockets with 3D printed engines. This is considered different from other big space companies like Elon Musk's Space X, which uses larger rockets in carrying bigger payloads.
This action has made officials from New Zealand excited but struggling at the same time to keeping it up. In an article published by Phys.org, politicians are now rushing with new space laws as the government is setting up a boutique space agency that would employ 10 people.
Bridges hopes the Rocket Lab would be successful, as it could change people's view of New Zealand. The usual stereotype with New Zealand is a place full of tourist-attracting sceneries and farms instead of being a technological nation on the rise.