Rocket Lab opens Kiwi launch pad


New Zealand's first commercial rocket launch site has been opened.

Rocket Lab's facility is based on the remote Mahia Peninsula, near Gisborne, and was opened on Tuesday.

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck says it's a significant milestone in the build-up to the first test flight of their Electron rocket, which will deliver satellites into orbit more cheaply than existing operators.

"It's wonderful to celebrate the completion of the site with those who have helped us get this far and welcomed us into their community," he says.

Because the site is so remote, launches won't interrupt any air or marine traffic.

Tuesday's opening, by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, is the result of nearly 10 months of work.

Local iwi who own the launch site on Onenui Station struck a deal with Rocket Lab, and the region is full of hope.

"It's going to mean a lot of stuff for Gisborne because we hope to be the service centre for it," Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon said when construction began.

"We have the closest airport [and] we have a lot of land for development."


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