New Zealand 2018 Kitsempty Spaces The Blog

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OPINION: In the year that marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, New Zealand's space aspirations are starting to take flight.

The Government has invested nearly $30 million in space-related research projects in the last two weeks, most of them for designing, controlling and tracking satellites.


New Zealand 2018 Kitsempty Spaces The Blog Template

Until now, our space 'industry' has largely consisted of Rocket Lab, which impressively, remains the only private space company in the world regularly launching satellite payloads into space from small rockets.

Prabho venkatesa song lyrics mp3. Rocket Lab's success has helped draw other space-related projects into our orbit, with a fair bit of hustling too from our tiny New Zealand Space Agency.

* Methane satellite mission to be based in NZ
* Rocket Lab plans to shoot satellites to the moon and beyond with new 'Photon' spaceship
* 'Complex and diverse': New Zealand Space Agency reveals Rocket Lab customers' satellite plans
* Space 3.0 – how it will solve problems here on Earth
* Earth's orbiting junkyard threatens the space economy

The largest investment is the $26m the Government has made in MethaneSAT, a 350kg satellite due to be launched in 2022, which will monitor methane levels in the atmosphere.

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It involves a tie-up between the Government and the Environmental Defense Society, a major US-based environmental not-for-profit.

New Zealand 2018 Kitsempty Spaces The Blog

New Zealand 2018 Kitsempty Spaces The Blog 2017

​MethaneSAT won't be launched from here, but New Zealand will build and host a mission control centre for it, likely based at one of our universities.

Some argue that we should spend less on space projects and more on tackling problems on Earth.

But Earth actually is the focus. These projects are not about missions to Mars, but about better understanding what is happening to our planet.

MethaneSAT will initially monitor methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. But it might one day help us get a better handle on the planet-warming methane agricultural sectors produce.

Another project by University of Auckland researchers will look at developing a satellite radar system that can be put on a pint-sized CubeSat​ to monitor our oceans and coasts.

The company Swarm NZ will develop software to help satellite operators avoid collisions as space becomes increasingly crowded with satellites orbiting Earth.

These are small steps. But US company LeoLabs​ last month opened its Kiwi Space Radar in Central Otago to track objects in low Earth orbit as small as two centimetres.

And Alexandra-based Xerra Earth Observation Institute is hitting its stride.

There is plenty going on in a sector that has real commercial and scientific potential.