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World’s first private spaceport will launch a rocket by the end of the year

Rocket Lab’s new hangar and 50-ton launch pad has wrapped construction in New Zealand

When you’re in the business of cheaply firing satellites into space, you need your own launch pad. At least, that’s the thinking of Rocket Lab, a private aerospace company dedicated to quickly and affordably getting small satellites up into orbit.

After developing its flagship Electron launch vehicle—which is capable of delivering small satellites to space for as little as $50,000—Rocket Lab needed a place to launch it. Their real estate search eventually settled on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula, where a lack of air traffic will provide ample launch windows in a wide range of directions.

After building a 3.5-mile road to the seaside launch site, Rocket Lab constructed a hangar for their equipment as well as the crucial 50-ton launch pad. The entire project took just nine months.

The company’s first take off is scheduled to happen by the end of the year. An additional nine launches in 2017 are fully booked for satellites that will one day provide crop monitoring, weather data, and location services.