Rocket Lab: Helping the US wage endless wars from space


It’s clear local mana whenua were misled by Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck when iwi land at Mahia Peninsula was leased to launch satellites into space.

At the time Peter Beck was clear Rocket Lab would be used for civilian purposes only and would not take up military contracts, despite this being a particularly lucrative path to take.

Fast forward a few years and we find Beck has abandoned any principles he may have had and his company is now majority owned by the US military and is launching satellites for US military purposes.

The government has to sign off on each launch to make sure it is in line with what’s acceptable to this country but it’s clearly a rubber stamp process conducted by Stuart Nash.

Any assurances from Peter Beck or Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash, who signs off on the launches for the government, that Rocket Lab’s work is for the betterment of mankind are not credible.

Peter Beck sets up straw man arguments saying claims of Rocket Lab weaponizing space are “misinformation” and the company would “not deal in weapons”. “We’re certainly not going to launch weapons or anything that damages the environment or goes and hurts people,” he told Newshub last year.

What nonsense. These are “straw-man” arguments. No-one has claimed the rockets contain weapons but what is absolutely clear is that the US military launches rockets for military purposes and this is what is happening at Mahia.

The NZ Herald reported last year on the capabilities of “Gunsmoke-J satellites”, which have been launched from Mahia for the US military, saying:

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The other is the “Gunsmoke-J” satellite being launched for the US Army’s Space and Missile Defence Command (SMDC).

Gunsmoke-J is a prototype for a possible series of nano-satellites that will collect targeting data “in direct support of Army combat operations” according to a US Army fact sheet and a US Department of Defence budget document.

Green MP and party spokesperson for security and intelligence, Teanau Tuiono, is right to speak out:

“Weaponising space is not in our national interest and goes against our international commitments to ensuring peace in space,”

“The government should put in place clear rules that stop our whenua being used to launch rockets on behalf of foreign militaries”


“We should not be a launching pad for satellites for America’s military and intelligence agencies,” Green Party security and intelligence spokesman Teanau Tuiono said.

Rocket Lab is donkey deep with US strategies for “full spectrum dominance of the planet – including space. In doing so Beck and the government have made Mahia a target for conventional or even tactical nuclear weapons if hostilities break out between the US and another world power.

It’s ironic that the government provided start-up funds for Beck to get Rocket Lab off the ground only for Aotearoa New Zealand to find the company has put us to bed with a foreign military and made us target for conventional or nuclear attack.

Mana whenua in Mahia are right to be concerned – and so should the rest of us.

The government is “consulting” at the moment on these issues in their Space Policy Review.

Make a submission for the peaceful use of space here (Deadline 31 October)


  1. Consulting in New Zealand means asking people their views and ONLY those that agree with what ‘they’ were going to do in the first place ,will be acknowledged and ‘that path’ chosen as proof that ‘we’ listen to the people.
    I say, absolute horse sh1t.

      • The decentralization of Space Corps launch platforms will factor in political acceptance. NZ needs a precautionary approach to develop our capacity for credible moral station in international diplomacy. In short, a Bugger Off Boeing policy.

      • Via SpaceX, just as they are now.

        In terms of capability, Rocket Lab isn’t that much ahead of Germany’s V2 rocket in the 1940’s.

  2. mana whenua should cancel the lease forthwith. Anything less is capitulation, which if nothing else weakens arguements for co-governance.

    Now I’m biased against co-governance to start with, but showing responsible stewardship would go a long way towards proving a legitimacy for fundamentally altering our countries structures of power.

  3. Everything is always so right or so wrong in johns eyes. No in between. Yes some information attained by rocket lab may be used for military purposes but I would rather be helping the Americans than Russia Iran or China if I have a choice. There is a trade off with everything in life and John has chosen not to mention all the good stuff Rocket lab helps achieve. The USA is only one of many war mongering countries, but in my opinion is no worse than any of the others. At least they have a democratic government that with all its faults is better than the Authoritarian iron fisted rule of the others.

    • It’s easier to count the number of countries or states the USA has not invaded, occupied, subjugated, undermined, sabotaged, or corrupted
      That number is – 3. Andorra, Bhutan, and Liechtenstein.

      • For fucks sake lighten up you people. It’s rocket lab. It does some good stuff like helping monitor climate change I’m picking. And for those who say it’s a cloaked military utility, prove it. I might be guessing but so are you. Talk about conspiracy theories.

        • So ownership of the company and the launching of US Intelligence satellites isn’t sufficient evidence?

          What do you need, John Wayne in USMC uniform standing guard outside?

    • None of what you say precludes putting a stop to the US Military using NZ land to launch intelligence satellites. John didn’t say civilian satellites should not be launched.

  4. When I was a child, there was a great movement, an ultimately successful movement, to stop US Military bringing nuclear powered, nuclear armed, things into Aotearoa’s Moana. My parents marched in the street, and Aotearoa became famous as the little Pasifika Nation that could stand up to THE MAN. But since David Lange and ‘I could smell the uranium on his breath’, we lack that level of leadership. Tangata Whenua, Mana Whenua, we who grew up in the city, some of us Urban Maori now trying to reconnect with our Whenua, Moana, and feeling the spiritual journey, while strongly atheist. Progressive and respectful…this is where humans should have evolved to by this time. Unfortunately the increasingly loud ignorant and bigoted voices are drowning the intelligent, educated discussions about why hegemonic geo political super powers have not changed one ounce since the Berlin Wall was demolished. Are we living in 2022, the only defining measure is a pandemic that began in a state that likes to control population. “If you believe, they put a man on the moon; if you believe, there’s nothing up their sleeve” – R.E.M.

  5. Excellent Post @ JM.
    I’m always reminded that when something’s said, written or performed in the name of The United $tate$ of America it’s done so from behind a mountain of debt which when re-spun more means money for the already absurdly rich.
    The U$A is a corporation of money fetishists conspiring to make ever more money because, like a lot of nut jobs with psychological disorders, enough’s never enough. Absolute power is absolute and no matter the cost, absolute power must be obtained to tickle the fickle amygdala’s of the little man and the little woman in the control box, breeding to further the soulless machinery they swing about designed to scoop up ALL the money. And when they have it all? They’ll breed and swing the machinery to print more money, and more, then more, and more and more and more and more.
    The mortal mind is the final frontier and space weapons is just another way of getting there so they’re able to reach down into our pockets. I’ve written here before somewhere; no one should be allowed to go into space (outer) ever. It’s like being at the roaring party while one or two others creep around the outside of the house looking in, snickering and peeping.
    It could be explained more agriculturally, I suppose. Once the yanks get a toe hold in space (outer) we’re all fucked. Just like everything else corporate ‘merica touches here on terra firma with its sticky, greedy little fingering fingers. What ever corporate U$A touches, it fucks. We have a planet, our only planet, dying under us from pollution and exhaustion. Isn’t that proof enough?
    NB. Keep an eye on Awarua also:

  6. This is an issue I know a great deal about. Yes, Rocket Lab has launched satellites for the USDOD and Dapra. However, they are no more than testing experimental technologies. Mostly small radio and communication systems. Rocket Lab satellites are too small to have any actual military utility. In any event the US would always want to launch actual military satellites from within the US. Either by Space X or ULA from Cape Canaveral or Vandenberg on the West Coast. These satellites weigh several thousand kilograms.
    As for these launches making New Zealand a potential target. Well, that is an absurd proposition. Mahia is no more likely to be a target than the Devonport naval base or Waiouru military camp. In other words, the risk is about zero.

  7. Rocket Lab is owned by Lockheed-Martin.
    And NZ Superfund invests in Raytheon.
    Our country is part of the American military machine, profiteering from war.

  8. A nuclear strike target. Really? If nukes were being used in a conflict, a launch pad for future satellites would not be that important.

    A more salient point is it resourcing the identification and targeting of civilians, here or in Oz or any other democracy.

  9. Good on John Minto for highlighting Rocket Lab’s (and the New Zealand government’s) direct involvement in, and support for, the US war machine. The hardware Rocket Lab is launching is designed for high resolution battlefield targeting and facilitation of other “special operations” such as assassinations and dronings. This means high-profile wars like Ukraine, as well as the other six or seven live-fire conflicts the US is presently involved in. Government sign-offs and Beck’s “assurances” are cleverly worded obfuscation of this stark reality. When was the NZ public asked if it supports our direct involvement in the endless global US war making project. Rocket Lab is no longer a NZ company. It is a wholly controlled subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, the biggest US military contractor of all. Let Rocket Lab go it’s own way.
    End military payloads from Mahia and insist all military-related, or dual use, payloads be launched only from the company’s other launch site in Virginia or elsewhere outside NZ.
    Thank you, John

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