It still seems unreal that a small New Zealand company launched a rocket that put satellites into Earth orbit last Sunday. The success of Rocket Lab on only its second test flight from remote Mahia Peninsula deserves all the applause it has received so far.
Congratulations were quick to come from scientists and satellite engineers in the United States, the usual home of space programmes. It may be hard to believe New Zealand has joined that exalted company but it is true, in a niche anyway.
Rocket Lab, founded by New Zealander Peter Beck, aims to put small commercial satellites into orbit for a fraction of the cost of established operations.
The company is now nominally domiciled in the US for regulatory reasons but Beck remains chief executive, many of its shareholders are Kiwis, its operations are located here as are many of its suppliers.
Its first attempted launch of an Electron vehicle in November was aborted over the Pacific four minutes into the flight after a "data loss time out" caused by a misconfiguration of telemetry equipment. It really is rocket science.
But it is reassuring somehow that the countdown for the second launch when scheduled last Saturday had to be stopped for something as down to earth as a "rogue ship" passed down range of the rocket's path.
It was probably the last thing a ship would look out for passing a lonely low peninsula between East Cape and Hawke's Bay.
On Sunday the launch went to plan. After lift-off at 2.43pm the rocket, called "Still testing" reached orbit height in 8 minutes and 31 seconds, where it deployed its payloads, a satellite for an Earth imaging customer and others for weather mapping and tracking ship traffic.
Beck hailed it as, "The beginning of a new era in commercial access to space". He said reaching orbit on a second test flight was significant on its own, but successfully deploying commercial payloads so soon was "almost unprecedented". His peers sending congratulations agreed.
His company has five Electron rockets in production. It has chosen Mahia for its launch pad to take advantage of its uncrowded sky, making repeat launches more viable than in most places in the world. At full production it hopes to launch more than 50 times a year and has a permit for 120 a year.
In celebrating achievements such as this, we are celebrating entrepreneurship. Peter Beck has the knowledge, confidence, determination and drive to invest in an idea and trust himself to make it work.
Like many such people, he is pursuing a principle too. He sees himself helping to open space for easier access, to better understand the planet and improve life on it — though he would do better not to put an environmental gloss on the big "disco ball" he has put in the sky temporarily as part of the test.
His next launch, a third test flight into a sun-synchronous orbit 300km to 500km above the Earth, will be followed by the first commercial missions.
He has truly aimed high and all of us can be astounded that something like this is possible to do from New Zealand. It starts with the belief.