William Shatner suggests Jacinda Ardern sends Neve to space

Rocket Lab has unveiled a new Auckland facility that will help boost production, allowing it the capability to launch one Electron rocket a week.

William Shatner - also known as Star Trek's Captain Kirk - was at the Mt Wellington site for the big unveiling. He cut the ribbon alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Shatner joked Rocket Lab could send baby Neve to space as an answer to Elon Musk sending a Telsa into space. 

"Think about how much better New Zealand's space programme would be – instead of a car, a newborn baby."

Ms Ardern ruled out sending baby Neve into space.

The Chief Executive of Rocket Lab, Peter Beck, hopes by 2020 Rocket Lab will reach its goal of sending a rocket a week.

"Every detail of the Rocket Lab launch system has been designed to provide small satellites with rapid and reliable access to space," Mr Beck said.

"This requires the ability to manufacture launch vehicles at an unprecedented rate, so we've expanded our global production capability to build and launch an Electron rocket to orbit every week."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the facility looks like "the stuff of films... and the stuff of dreams."

Scott Brown, US Ambassador, was in attendance. Ms Ardern said it was a sign of the scientific co-operation between New Zealand and the United States.

Ms Ardern said she had played William Shatner's cover of Common People during a Laneway DJ set.

"What a wonderful place to be - on the cutting edge of this technology," Sir William said. "I feel special to be here."

Electron rockets are carbon composite orbital launch vehicles, with 3D printed engines.

Pieces are built in California then sent to the new New Zealand factory to be assembled. Rocket Lab said 200 people will work in the new facility. They are recruiting for 180 roles across New Zealand and the United States.

An Electron rocket.
An Electron rocket. Photo credit: Kieran Fanning/Rocket Lab

The rockets will then be launched at Māhia Peninsula from mission control in Auckland.