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Rocket Lab launch sends New Zealand into space for first time

Rocket Lab has successfully launched its Electron rocket into space, making New Zealand the 11th country to do so.

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Michelle Starr Science editor
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr
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Watch this: Rocket Lab makes first rocket launch from private pad, and New Zealand

Rocket Lab has made history in New Zealand by launching its carbon-composite Electron rocket into Earth's orbit on Thursday.

It's also the world's first successful launch into space from a private launch pad, the company said.

The launch took place five days into a 10-day launch window. Attempts Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were cancelled, due to poor launch conditions, such as high winds, which can cause the build-up of static charge through friction, which in turn can affect the rocket's avionics.

"We're one of a few companies to ever develop a rocket from scratch and we did it in under four years," Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said in a statement. "We've worked tirelessly to get to this point. We've developed everything in house, built the world's first private orbital launch range, and we've done it with a small team."

The disposable Electron rocket is designed carry payloads up to 150 kg of small satellites into low-Earth orbit, to provide services such as affordable internet.

Over the coming weeks, the team will analyse the data collected during the flight to refine and optimise the Electron. At full production, it aims to launch every 72 hours, or over 50 times a year.