New Zealand’s very own rocket – woohoo!

Congratulations, New Zealand! I look forward to the ‘Moon Express” and will be watching closely!

Matthew Wright

Yesterday New Zealand launched a rocket from the only privately owned launch site in the world – just across the bay from my home town of Napier. And we joined an exclusive club of space-faring nations.

The Electron booster and its Rutherford engines that did the job were invented and built here by a local company, Rocket Lab. Yesterday’s test didn’t make orbit as intended, but all things being equal, they’ll be sending the first privately built probe to the Moon within the year – the ‘Moon Express’ developed in Florida. And there’s a major market for small satellite launchers.

How times change. Back when I was growing up in Napier in the 1960s, New Zealand viewed itself as Britain’s larder, a pastoral nation whose prosperity came from sending frozen sheep carcases to Britain. We also viewed ourselves as provincial and backward by comparison with other nations – socially…

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