Rocket Lab has passed a significant milestone in its launch preparations after agreeing with Airways New Zealand how the air navigation service provider will safely support regular rocket launches through New Zealand airspace.
Airways has signed a contract with Rocket Lab to provide air traffic services for its test and commercial rocket launches from the world’s first private orbital launch site on Mahia Peninsula.
Airways’ Chief Operating Officer Pauline Lamb says the organisation has been working with Rocket Lab for 18 months as it prepares to make history with the launch of its Electron rocket from New Zealand.
“A ’special use airspace’ will be created around the Electron rocket as it launches through New Zealand airspace. Our air traffic controllers will protect this airspace from other aircraft using airspace separation procedures, and will do all they can to minimise the impact the launch operations may have on other airspace users,” Ms Lamb says.
“Allowing safe and flexible access to our airspace will be an important factor in supporting this emerging industry in New Zealand, and Airways is committed to enabling this.”
Rocket Lab has developed its own commercial launch facility on Mahia Peninsula and plans to deliver commercial payloads into space with up to 100 launches per year.
“We look forward to working with Airways, who continue to play an important role in ensuring New Zealand’s growing aerospace industry is safe and well-coordinated with all aviation activity,” says Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck.
Airways is in a strong position to be working with Rocket Lab as it embarks on rocket launches into space from New Zealand. The air traffic control provider has already enabled around 120 near-space launches through New Zealand airspace. Organisations such as NASA and Google have chosen New Zealand for their balloon launches due to our relatively uncongested airspace, Airways’ experience and robust systems and procedures, and a national appetite to support emerging technology.
“It’s great to see a New Zealand founded organisation taking a world-leading role in the rocket technology sector. While working alongside Rocket Lab to enable their launches, at the same time we’re helping to position New Zealand as the ideal place to access space from,” Ms Lamb says.