15 May 2017

3-2-1: Rocket Lab to blast off next week

12:23 pm on 15 May 2017

The country's only rocket company is set to attempt its first commercial launch into space next week.

The Rocket Lab site

The Rocket Lab site Photo: courtesy Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab said it will attempt to launch its Electron rocket into orbit from Māhia Peninsula, south of Gisborne, sometime over the 10 days starting next Monday.

In March, Rocket Lab raised more than $100 million in funding from Silicon Valley investor Data Collective, as well as from earlier investors including Sir Stephen Tindall's K1W1 fund.

Rocket Lab CEO, Peter Beck. Photo from Rocket Lab website

Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck with an earlier version of the rocket. Photo: SUPPLIED / Rocket Lab

The test flight of the 17m rocket will be the first of three as the company gets set for commercial launches.

"Our number one priority is to gather enough data and experience to prepare for a commercial phase," Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck said.

"Only then can we can start delivering on our mission to make space more accessible."

He said the test flight would only go ahead if conditions were ideal. There would be no public viewing areas to watch any launch and nearby roads would be closed.

Rocket Lab launch pad

The Rocket Lab launch pad Photo: courtesy Rocket Lab

"During this first launch attempt it is possible we will scrub multiple attempts as we wait until we are ready and conditions are favourable," Mr Beck said.

Rocket Lab already has commercial customers, including NASA, lined up with payloads to be put into orbit.