Star Trek actor William Shatner has opened Rocket Lab's new factory in the Auckland suburb of Mount Wellington.

His speech however took a strange turn when he suggested putting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's baby up into space.

"Elon Musk, so he puts a rocket up, and he puts a car up, the Prime Minister has a baby, so why don't we put the baby up, but think how much better New Zealand's space program would be, instead of a car, how about a baby?"

Ardern wasn't so keen on the idea.

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"I don't think we'll be following up on that particular payload suggestion," she said.

The 87-year-old, who played the captain of the USS Enterprise James T. Kirk in the science fiction franchise, officially opened the facility with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Read more: Inside Rocket Lab's new Auckland mega factory

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and US ambassador Scott Brown were also at the launch.

The factory is a huge space - 7500 square metres (80,700 sq/ft) or four times the size of Rocket Lab's old assembly plant next to Auckland Airport.

It includes a new Mission Control Centre, which will oversee launches from Rocket Lab's Mahia Peninsula launchpad, plus its pending new facility in the US.

At today's opening: Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, William Shatner, US Ambassador to NZ Scott Brown and Rocket Lab foudner Peter Beck. Photo / Chris Keall
At today's opening: Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, William Shatner, US Ambassador to NZ Scott Brown and Rocket Lab foudner Peter Beck. Photo / Chris Keall

PR being an important part of the space industry, the cramped area for a handful of guests at Rocket Lab's old Mangere office has been replaced by a roomy area where 150 guests can watch a launch - of which there will be many, if all goes to plan (read more on Rocket Lab's plan for high-frequency launches and see photos of its high-tech new facility here).

Founder and chief executive Peter Beck says 16 flights are planned for next year.

By 2020, he wants a launch a week - hence the ramp up in production capacity.

The 87-year-old played the captain of the USS Enterprise James T. Kirk in the science fiction franchise Star Trek. Photo / Getty.
The 87-year-old played the captain of the USS Enterprise James T. Kirk in the science fiction franchise Star Trek. Photo / Getty.

Beck gave a special thanks to the Rocket Lab team for their innovation and putting in hard work.

"Generally it's countries that go to space, not companies," he said.

Taking to stage, Prime Minister Ardern said it was an honour to be among such a prestigious group of guests.

"I never thought in my life I would acknowledge William Shatner at the beginning of a speech," she said.

Ardern said if you said to people 15 years ago that this would be the industry New Zealand would be playing a role in, most would be surprised.