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William Shatner opens Rocket Lab's latest NZ base

16 Oct 18

It seems only fitting that the one and only William Shatner (or as most of us know him, Captain Kirk from Star Trek) officially opened Rocket Lab’s production facility in Auckland… boldly taking space technology where few have gone before.

Last week Rocket Lab opened its new 7500 square-metre facility that will support rocket development and production – and ‘rapid mass production of the Electron rocket’.

While Rocket Lab is headquartered and has an existing production facility in Huntington Beach, California, the local one now helps to boost the total manufacturing space to more than 4-5 acres.

That much space means Rocket Lab will be able to build an Electron rocket every week, the company says.

Electron launch vehicles will get the final touches at the Auckland facility, where they will go through a streamlined testing and integration into rockets before they launch.

The launch pad remains at the company’s Launch Complex 1 on the Māhia Peninsula. The company 

Shatner joined Rocket Lab chief Peter Beck on October 12 to open the Auckland facility. 

“Every detail of the Rocket Lab launch system has been designed to provide small satellites with rapid and reliable access to space. This requires the ability to manufacture launch vehicles at an unprecedented rate, so we’ve expanded our global production capability to build and launch an Electron rocket to orbit every week,” says Beck.

“We have the team, the industry-leading launch vehicle, the global production facilities and the launch sites to liberate the small satellite market. Rocket Lab has opened access to orbit.”

All Electron launches, including the upcoming It’s Business Time launch in November, will be commanded from the new Mission Control at the Auckland facility. 

This Mission Control will serve launches from Launch Complex 1 in Māhia, as well as Rocket Lab’s US launch site, which is currently undergoing final selection. 

The new production facility will house more than 200 of Rocket Lab’s growing team of 330 people.

In September Rocket Lab revealed it had also scored a deal with Luxembourg-based satellite tech company Kleos Space to launch satellites.

“Small satellite technology like that of Kleos Space is increasingly playing a vital role in informing decisions on the ground that protect people and the environment. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Kleos Space to provide them with the rapid and reliable access to orbit needed to build and replenish small satellite constellations,” commented Beck at the time.

Rocket Lab is actively recruiting for an additional 180 roles across New Zealand and the United States to support monthly launches in 2019, scaling to weekly launches by the end of 2020.