Rocket Lab on a mission with NASA to launch a spacecraft into moon's orbit

New Zealand is going to the moon - well kind of. Rocket Lab has teamed up with NASA to launch a spacecraft to the moon's orbit. 

And if it all goes to plan it would allow the space agency to park a space station in the same orbit, which could help astronauts make their way back to the lunar surface and eventually to Mars. 

From Mahia to the moon, on Tuesday night Rocket Lab will take the first step in NASA's mission to return humans to the moon. 

"It's not really an exaggeration to say that Rocket Lab and New Zealand are at the forefront of humanity's return to the moon," said Rocket Lab spokesperson Morgan Bailey. 

The mission is to test a unique lunar orbit that has never been flown before, part of NASA's $93 billion Artemis project.

Rocket Lab's launch will cost NASA just $14 million, as the company seeks to show off its high-tech, low-cost Kiwi ingenuity.

"What we're looking to do is prove that with a small rocket and relatively small team, pretty cost-effectively you can actually do pretty big things with interplanetary space," said Bailey. 

Manager of NZ Space Agency at the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment Andrew Johnson said it puts Aotearoa on the map. 

"This is a historic moment for New Zealand, there's not actually many countries around the world that have ever launched a rocket to the moon."  

And it's lucrative too. 

"The space industry to New Zealand is already worth $1.7 billion per annum," said Johnson. 

This launch is crucial for Rocket Lab and while it might just be one small step for NASA, it really is one giant leap for a Kiwi-connected company on the world stage.