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A small, private company launched New Zealand’s first rocket into space to cheers from about 50 people gathered on a small island off the country’s coast.
As the noise of the blastoff sent sheep running, the 18-foot rocket raced into the sky, reaching beyond the Kármán line, 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the Earth’s surface, which is traditionally considered the dividing altitude between the upper atmosphere and real space.
The Atea-1, named after the Maori word for space, was built by Rocket Lab. It’s the first privately built rocket launched from the Southern Hemisphere to reach space.
“It’s not trivial sending something into space,” Mark Rocket, Rocket Lab director and former internet entrepreneur, told local media. “This is a huge technological leap for New Zealand.”
After the sub-orbital vehicle entered space, it turned back toward Earth and splashed down. The Rocket Lab team is currently trying to locate the rocket, which was expected to fall into the Pacific Ocean about 30 miles northeast of Great Mercury Island, a privately owned resort and the rocket’s takeoff point.
If you happen to be in the area and see the payload, don’t go scooping it up, Rocket Lab warned through its Twitter feed.
“IMPORTANT: Marine traffic in the Coromandel, do not recover payload, it contains delicate scientific instruments & is potentially hazardous,” the Lab wrote. “If found please mark the payload location, and relay the GPS coordinates to Rocket Lab ASAP.”
The Atea-1 is unusually light and small. Including propellant, the 18-foot rocket weighs less than 150 pounds. It’s built largely from carbon-fiber composites and its 30-pound engine generates thrust equivalent to 3,200 horsepower. The Atea can take payloads of up to about four and a half pounds.
By comparison, an Atlas V rocket weighs 1.2 million pounds and can carry payloads of 65,000 pounds to low-earth orbit.
Originally posted by Hastobemoretolife
There is one thing that bugs me about it though. You would think since they sent a freaking rocket into space they could have added a GPS transmitter to it so they could pick it up when it splashed down.
Part of New Zealand's first space rocket has been found bobbing in the ocean off the Coromandel Peninsula coast.
A fisherman called researchers just after 10am to say he had seen the booster floating off Great Mercury Island.
The six metre rocket dubbed Manu Karere, or Bird Messenger, blasted off from the island on Monday afternoon, reaching an altitude of 100 kilometres before splashing down.
Rocket Lab technical director Peter Beck says the booster will be closely studied.
"We've only literally pulled it up a minute ago so we're just looking at things like the fins and noticing that the fins are all melted so that tells us we achieved velocity.
We're learning a lot."
Beck says they are still trying to track down the rest of the rocket.
Mariners are being urged to keep a lookout for the payload from New Zealand's first home-grown space rocket.
Rocket Lab director Mark Rocket said he hoped to find the payload, once the GPS signal was located.
Mr Rocket said the payload should not be handled as it was "potentially hazardous" and contained delicate instruments
In 1963 an imported rocket was launched to a height of about 75km to conduct upper atmospheric research in a joint venture between Canterbury University's physics department and the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
It was launched from Birdlings Flat, 44km southeast of Christchurch, spent about 2 1/2 minutes airborne and landed in the sea
Originally posted by Phage
reply to post by buddhasystem
I'm pretty sure they knew where it was. The were just warning people who might get to it before they did away from it. I think when the article says "trying to find it" it means they're on their way. You always have to consider how the press never gets it exactly right. Particularly if it has anything to do with space.