'Literally over the moon' - Rocket Lab celebrate success of NZ's first rocket lift off into space from Hawke's Bay

US aerospace company Rocket Lab has conducted a test launch of a rocket from Mahia Peninsula in Hawke's Bay today.

Peter Beck, CEO and founder of Rocket Lab says the launch is something for all New Zealanders. Source: 1 NEWS

The rocket lifted off at 4.20pm today and was the first orbital-class rocket launched from a private launch site in the world. 

CEO and founder of Rocket Lab Peter Beck, says he is "literally over the moon" at today's successful launch. 

"To achieve what we achieved today is just something countries aspire to let alone companies," Mr Beck told 1 NEWS. 

"New Zealand is in the space race for sure and as a company that is a huge milestone for us and it really accelerates our ability to get into commercial operations from here on in. 

Rocket Lab launched the rocket from Hawke’s Bay Mahia Peninsula today. Source: 1 NEWS

"We didn't quite reach orbit but we had a great flight. We had a fantastic first stage burn and we went through Max Q which is the hardest thing to go through."

Rocket Lab confirmed the launch in a tweet this afternoon saying: "Made it to space. Team Delighted."

Mr Beck and his team will now have a new mission of sifting through 25,000 channels of data that was collecting during the launch which will inform the company how to optimise the rocket.

Rocket Lab today launched NZ’s most significant foray into space. Source: Rocket Lab

From there, Rocket Lab will get ready for their next test flight. 

The purpose of the launch is to collect data to inform future tests and commercial launches, making space more accessible in New Zealand. 

Today's launch was the first of three test launches planned for the Complex 1 site on Mahia Peninsula.