The Channel News Asia article New Zealand launches into space race with 3D-printed rocket says:

Ships and planes need re-routing every time a rocket is launched, which limits opportunities in crowded U.S. skies, but New Zealand, a country of 4 million people in the South Pacific, has only Antarctica to its south. The country is also well-positioned to send satellites bound for a north-to-south orbit around the poles.

I'm curious if there is a significant distinction or difference between launching a polar orbit mission south from New Zealand versus launching it north. Is it only a question of the area of overflight, or are there differences in the spaceflight dynamics or payload weight limits for example?

Here "polar orbit" includes of course sun-synchronous LEO orbits and is not limited to exactly 90 degrees inclination.


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There shouldn't be a difference in whether the mission is technically feasible. The flight plan would be altered as deflection would be mirrored, but I can't see any reason engineering aspects would differ.

That said, I can't imagine that it would ever launch north.The reason the launch site was chosen is because there's nothing south of it until Antarctica. The city of Gisborne is about 40 miles to the NNE of Launch Complex 1, and Fiji would be directly under the flight path as well. That's a significant domestic population center and a number of towns belonging to a sovereign nation, none of which you want to drop even a small rocket on. They might not be as forgiving as Mexico.

  • $\begingroup$ yikes! I didn't know "bondock" was a word, but bundok is, and The Boondocks used to be on Adult Swim. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    May 26, 2017 at 1:22

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