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Rocket Lab and Airways launch agreement

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 9/09/2016 Edwin Mitson
Peter Beck from Rocket Lab. © Phil Walter/Getty Images Peter Beck from Rocket Lab.

Airways New Zealand has signed a contract with commercial rocket launch provider, Rocket Lab, to provide air traffic services for test and commercial flights through the country's airspace.

In a statement, Airways said they'd been in talks with Rocket Lab for the past 18 months.

Rocket Lab operates a private satellite launch site on the Mahia Peninsula between Napier and Gisborne. The company plans around 100 launches a year through its Electron rocket.

Airways chief operating officer Pauline Lamb said "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 separation procedures and will do all they can to minimise the impact the launch operations may have on other airspace users."

Rocket Lab is backed by Silicon Valley investor Khosla Ventures, Stephen Tindall's K1W1 fund, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bessemer Venture Partners, and global defence group Lockheed Martin. In July last year, it signed a contract with the US's National Aeronautics and Space Administration letting it use NASA's resources.

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