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Air traffic control deal for Rocket Lab 2017

Rocket Lab and Airways have signed a deal to clear airspace for a launch from New Zealand.

A ”special use airspace” will be created around the Electron rocket as it launches from its Mahia site through New Zealand airspace.

The rocket has enough thrust to lift the equivalent of a fully laden double decker off the ground and in its flight to space can reach speeds of more than 27,000kph.

Rocket Lab is promoting cut price transport of satellites into orbit by building cheaper rockets and greater launch frequencies than established competitors.

It has not set a date for its first test launch but has said previously it would be some time later this year.

Airways’chief operating officer Pauline Lamb said her organisation had been working with Rocket Lab for 18 months.

”From our perspective our role is to ensure that Rocket Lab can operate safely and minimise the disruption to the air network. 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.”

Very few aircraft operate in the area, she said.

Airways controls airspace up to 60,000 feet and the rocket will be in that zone for about 90 seconds.

A dedicated Airways controller at the state owned enterprise’s Christchurch centre will monitor the rocket and be in touch with Rocket Lab’s own ground controllers.

Rocket Lab is promoting cut price transport of satellites into orbit by building cheaper rockets and greater launch frequencies than established competitors.

The two-stage carbon fibre Electron is 16m tall, 1.20m in diameter and has a lift-off mass of 12,800kg. The company plans up to 100 launches a year.

Lamb said Airways was in a strong position to be working with Rocket Lab.

It had 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 the country’s relatively uncongested airspace, she said.

 

 

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11706576

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