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Test rocket launched into space from New Zealand pad

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By Associated Press

California-based company Rocket Lab says it has successfully launched a test rocket into space from its New Zealand launch pad.

This Sept. 23, 2016 photo supplied by Rocket Lab, shows the launch site for the Electron rocket on the Mahia Peninsula in the North Island of New Zealand. New Zealand has never had a space program but could soon be launching commercial rockets more often than the United States. That’s if the plans of California-based company Rocket Lab work out. Founded by New Zealander Peter Beck, the company was last week given approval by the Federal Aviation Authority to conduct three test launches from a remote peninsula and the first could come as early as Monday. (Credits: Rocket Lab via AP | Manila Bulletin)

This Sept. 23, 2016 photo supplied by Rocket Lab, shows the launch site for the Electron rocket on the Mahia Peninsula in the North Island of New Zealand. (Credits: Rocket Lab via AP | Manila Bulletin)

The company tweeted Thursday afternoon: “Made it to space. Team delighted. More to follow!”

Rocket Lab was given official approval last week to conduct three test launches from the remote Mahia Peninsula. The company hopes to begin commercial launches later this year and eventually launch one rocket every week.

New Zealand has never had a space program but officials hope regular launches could change perceptions of the nation and generate hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Rocket Lab plans to keep costs low by using lightweight, disposable rockets with 3D-printed engines. It sees an emerging market in delivering lots of small devices into orbit.

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