29 Jul 2015

Rocket Lab a step closer to lift off

5:10 pm on 29 July 2015

The Canterbury Regional Council has granted consents to an Auckland-based rocket company which wants to build a launching facility on the coastline.

Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck.

Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck. Photo: Rocket Lab

The consents were issued the day after Prime Minister John Key attended the announcement of Rocket Lab's plans at the proposed site on Canterbury's Kaitorete Spit, near the township of Birdlings Flat, earlier this month.

The council has given Rocket Lab permission to discharge stormwater into the land, discharge contaminants into the air and a permit to occupy the coastal marine area when launching rockets.

It said any environmental risks of the rocket launch facility would be minor.

The consent to discharge contaminants into the air when testing rocket propulsion engines will expire in July 2017, whereas the other two consents do not expire until 2040 and 2050.

The permits restricted Rocket Lab to four test firings which must last no more than 30 seconds.

Once fully operational, Rocket Lab would have to provide 10 days' notice before any proposed launches and would be restricted to 12 launches a year.

Rocket Lab. Photo from Rocket Lab website

A Rocket Lab rocket. Photo: SUPPLIED / Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck said when the company announced its plans it was aiming to reduce the cost of reaching space by create rockets which cost less than $US5 million ($NZ7.4 million) to launch.

He said Rocket Lab was committed to protecting the environment.

Earlier this month, the Christchurch City Council confirmed it was working with Rocket Lab for the purpose of obtaining resource and building consent.

The council said the company had been developing the required ecological, cultural and archaeological reports, and risk mitigation plans, including fire management.

The application would be independently reviewed and determined by a planning commissioner, but it was not known when that would happen.

A council spokesperson said today that resource consent was applied for on 23 July and the application was being considered.

I think this is where the launch pad is?

Canterbury's Kaitorete Spit Photo: SUPPLIED / Google