World Space Week is an international celebration of science and technology. Each year, it starts on 4 October, the anniversary of the launch of the first human-made Earth satellite in 1957. It ends on 10 October, the anniversary of the signing of the Outer Space Treaty. This event presents an opportunity to focus on public education, participation, and dialogue on the future of space activity.

New Zealand is one of only 11 countries with active launch-to-orbit capability. As a space-faring nation, every week is Space Week in New Zealand. A 2019 report produced by Deloitte found that the New Zealand space sector contributed NZ$1.69 billion to the national economy in 2018-19 and supported 12,000 jobs. That’s a lot of jobs for a country the size of New Zealand.

National space policy

The New Zealand Space Agency was established in 2016 as the lead government agency for space policy, regulation and sector development. This year the New Zealand Space Agency launched New Zealand’s first National Space Policy, which sets out New Zealand’s values and high-level objectives for space activities.

The key values for New Zealand include stewardship, innovation, responsibility, and partnership. High-level objectives include growing an innovative and inclusive space sector, protecting and advancing New Zealand’s national security and economic interests, regulating to ensure space activities are safe and secure, promoting the responsible use of space internationally, and modelling sustainable space and Earth environments. One example of regulation is the Outer Space and High-altitude Activities Act 2017.

Government-supported initiatives

One of the New Zealand political parties has announced a policy that it hopes will grow the industry from NZ$1.69 billion to NZ$10 billion by 2030. If in a position to do so, the party would:

  • Appoint a Minister for Space to promote space and advanced aviation in New Zealand and improve the performance of regulators
  • Establish an annual Prime Minister's Space Prize for the top school student in aerospace-related subjects to help boost interest in science, technology, engineering and maths education
  • Welcome highly-skilled migrants to work in aerospace with fast-track visas including a pathway to residency
  • Establish two dedicated testing zones for space and aerospace, in addition to the site at Kaitorete near Ōtautahi/Christchurch
  • Improve satellite data procurement and sharing between government agencies.

New Zealand is expected to increase its role across the space value chain from manufacturing through to end use of space data. The National Space Policy and Government-supported initiatives are important milestones in New Zealand’s aerospace journey. It will help shape the creation of future space policies, legislation, and overall direction in this important sector.