31 Jul 2015

Rocket Lab signs deal with NASA

4:00 pm on 31 July 2015

New Zealand-based rocket company Rocket Lab, which was recently granted permission to launch from a remote part of the Canterbury coast, has signed a deal with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Rocket Lab test. Photo from Rocket Lab website

A test launch by Rocket Lab. Photo: SUPPLIED / Rocket Lab

The agreement means customers wanting to launch satellites into space will have the option of either using Kaitorete Spit, near the township of Birdlings Flat, or Cape Canaveral, in Florida.

The company said it enabled it to use NASA's personnel, facilities and equipment for launch efforts closer to the equator, but its primary launch site would remain in Canterbury.

NASA director of launch services Jim Norman said the deal showed it was committed to promoting the continued evolution of the US commercial space launch market.

Rocket Lab aims to reduce the cost of reaching space and hopes to create rockets that cost less than $7 million to launch.

Its first launch is planned for later this year.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs