New Zealand has joined a select few countries in entering the space race

New Zealand is closing in on the space race, with Rocket Lab's Electron rocket reaching space on Thursday.

New footage shows the rocket from the American-Kiwi owned company blasting from its launch site in Hawke's Bay and speeding away from earth.

It didn't successfully reach orbit, but it means New Zealand is only the 11th country on the planet to launch a rocket into space.

Electron was launched from a private site on the Mahi Peninsula near the town of Wairoa at 4:20pm, and reached space three minutes later.

Rocket Lab chief executive and founder Peter Beck has made it his life's ambition to join the space race, and was delighted with the result.

It took under four years for the Rocket Lab team to build the rocket from scratch, and it was the world's first orbital-class rocket launched from a private site.

Even though the rocket didn't make it into orbit, Mr Beck is still overjoyed with the result and is eager to try again.

"We didn't quite reach orbit and we'll be investigating why, however reaching space in our first test puts us in an incredibly strong position to accelerate the commercial phase of our programme, deliver our customers to orbit and make space open for business."

"We have learnt so much through this test launch and will learn even more in the weeks to come. We're committed to making space accessible and this is a phenomenal milestone in that journey."

Two more flights are scheduled for this year.

Nations that have sent rockets into space:










North Korea

New Zealand*

*New Zealand is the only country on the list that is yet to achieve orbit in space, but at least we're still beating Australia.