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Ask not what Space can do for you

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 30 July 2019, 12:48 pm

It's been a couple of years since the Outer Space and High-altitude Activities Act (2017) was passed into law, but it's still a bit of a surprise to think we now have a space industry in this country. And it's an industry that is expected to bring in plenty of export dollars, with Deloitte being contracted by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to find out how well the shiny new space sector it is performing economically.

Deloitte is running a survey to develop "an updated picture on the size, composition and economic contribution of the New Zealand Space economy to inform future strategy and focus, and mapping of the Space supply chain in New Zealand and how different sectors depend on each other."

While the survey closes this week (1 August), it does pose the question about what being part of the 'space economy' actually means. In the survey, Deloitte's provides the following OECD definition.

"The space economy is the full range of activities and use of resources that create and provide value and benefits to human beings in the course of exploring, understanding, managing and utilising space. It includes all public and private actors involved in developing, providing and using space-enabled products and services, ranging from research and development, the manufacture and use of space infrastructure (ground stations, launch vehicles and satellites) to space-enabled applications (navigation equipment, satellite phones, meteorological services, etc.) and the scientific knowledge generated by such activities."

There are three activities highlighted by the New Zealand Space Agency, on the MBIE website. They are Rocket Lab's private orbital launch range on the Mahia Peninsula, the Xerra Earth Observation Institute (formerly the Government-funded Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST) based in Alexandra, and NASA's super-pressure balloon programme launching from Wanaka.

The Space Agency is keen to encourage more activity, especially if it helps advance those areas where New Zealand has existing strengths - agri-technology, hazard management, oceanography and meteorology. As part of its efforts to encourage new ventures in space, it lists the following six reasons for setting up in New Zealand.

  1. Access to space
  2. Unique geography
  3. Enabling space business environment
  4. Nimble, stable, and reputable government
  5. Ingenuity and effective science infrastructure
  6. Connections for success

Meanwhile, if you live in Hawke's Bay and know a student interested in joining the space industry down the road, Rocket Lab has this week opened applications for its annual $20,000 scholarship for students looking to pursue a career in the STEM subjects. You can check out further information here


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