New Zealand to Kick Start Space Programme in 2015

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By Kalyan Kumar | July 30, 2014 12:16 PM EST

New Zealand is bracing to get a big slice of the global satellite launch market with its unique space programme getting ready to blast off by 2015. The National Herald reported that private initiative Rocket Lab has Peter Beck at its helm as the founder and CEO.

Reuters
NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 mission (OCO-2) launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California July 2, 2014.

Beck unveiled a 10-tonne rocket capable of sending satellites to space for less than $6 million. The current cost of sending a satellite into space was about $155 million, Beck said. The proposed 18-metre rocket in Auckland named Electron is significantly smaller than the average rocket length of 60 metres.

Also Electron would take less time to launch a satellite. From years the time span will be brought down to mere weeks.  A world-class launch vehicle will be built in Auckland.  Satellites launched by Electron will remain in orbit for five to seven years and can be used for as weather prediction, real-time mapping and climate-change monitoring.

Beck, who is in his mid 30s, hopes that his plan of one rocket a week will change the world. Rocket Lab built Electron had a $25 million grant from the government and funds from Silicon Valley venture capital companies.

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Beck claimed that his company already had 30 commitments from companies around the world looking for affordable ways to send satellites to space. This will include earth imaging and weather satellites

For the launch pad, Beck is using rural locations for which New Zealand is optimally placed, he said. According to Beck, New Zealand is a small island-nation. There is not much heavy air traffic or heavy marine and shipping traffic. These conditions make it easy to launch rockets to space frequently and rapidly.

It was a trip to the United States in 2007 that made Beck think of launching his own aerospace company. He found that aerospace companies are not able to meet the demand in the market. Soon he came up with the concept of Rocket Lab and began his mission to create an affordable space launch market.

Beck's message for Kiwi youngsters want to reach space is--study your maths, physics well and come to work for us.

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(Photo: Reuters / Gene Blevins)
NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 mission (OCO-2) launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California July 2, 2014.
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