New Zealand aerospace strategy backed by NZD12m additional funding

New Zealand’s new aerospace strategy spans the current decade and is accompanied by NZD15.7 million announced in 2022 plus a further NZD12 million in 2023. The strategy is built around five goals with active space exploration and drone services among these.

According to a report by Radio New Zealand:

“The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s space policy and sector development manager Andrew Johnson told Morning Report the strategy was needed as the country’s aerospace sector had grown significantly in recent years. “A lot of the regulatory systems that are needed to support the really novel activities that the sector’s undertaking are not yet in place,” he said.

“We’ve had to stand-up a space agency in recent years to allow the likes of Rocket Lab to operate out of the Mahia Peninsula and now we’re seeing really new concepts coming out of other parts of the aerospace value chain – automated vehicles, space planes potentially – and our regulators need to keep pace with that. A 2019 study looking just at the space sub-component of the aerospace sector in New Zealand had estimated its size as being worth NZD1.7 billion per annum, he said. “There are projections that, globally, that sector could be worth a trillion dollars by 2040.”

Other studies had estimated the benefits to the country of drone technologies being worth “several billion [dollars] over the next couple of decades”, he said. Johnson said the aerospace sector as a whole included advanced aviation technology, such as drones and automated vehicles, as well as space activities like those undertaken by the likes of Rocket Lab and the “downstream data application of satellites and other platforms sending data back to Earth”.

“The latter of those things could have sustainability applications, he said, with data gathered remotely being fed back to decision-makers to help inform their responses to issues such as climate change. He cited New Zealand’s involvement in the MethaneSAT space mission, which will launch in 2024, as such an example. “[It] will be essentially detecting methane emissions from space and then enabling policy-makers to take action on reducing those emissions.”

“And while Johnson thought it was unlikely New Zealand would be sending people into space “in the short-term”, he said the country could play a role in a range of activities that supported people going to space.

“There’s a whole raft of technologies that are needed to support that, whether it’s optical communications, whether it’s some of the biological technologies – testing how you grow food in space – there’s niches of expertise all around New Zealand that can support that activity,” reports Morning Report.

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