An American company has launched a rocket into space from New Zealand, the first from a private launch facility.

Rocket Lab’s 17m (56ft) Electron rocket took off from the Mahia peninsula, in North Island, the firm said on Twitter.

The test flight is a major first step in an emerging market; launching cheap disposable rockets to carry small satellites and other cargo.

The company plans to start frequent commercial launches later this year.

Due to bad weather, the launch had been delayed by several day, but the Electron finally took off on Thursday afternoon local time.

The test launch, one of three planned, did not carry any actual cargo, but Rocket Lab says eventually the Electron rocket will carry 150kg (331lbs) into orbit.

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