The space age is entering a new phase and in the future, booking a ticket on board a rocket headed into outer space may not just be for the mega rich. All around the world, in places like Japan and Russia, space agencies are working on pioneering ways to explore deep space. NASA is currently developing the Orion Spacecraft, which is designed to carry humans deeper into space than ever before. New Zealand is also preparing for take-off and could soon become a major player in spaceflight. Here we outline the ways New Zealand is participating in the global space economy.
NZ Space agency
New Zealand’s new space agency was formed in 2016, aiming to oversee and stimulate New Zealand’s participation in space exploration. The agency is part of the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE). This means New Zealand will likely play a more active role in the space economy, particularly since they are now a part of the United Nations Convention on Registration of objects launched into space. With the development of a space agency, exciting opportunities have been created for economic growth in New Zealand and the pursuit of new technologies. Also, it presents more opportunities for employment as essentially a new industry is being introduced to New Zealand.
Orbital launch site
New Zealand is making huge contributions to the future of space tourism and travel. In 2016, the world’s first privately owned orbital launch site, Launch Complex 1, was opened on a remote peninsula. It was completed by Los-Angeles based spaceflight company Rocket Lab. However, the construction of the site was completed with the help of local contractors in from Wairoa. The remote location is ideal as it provides clear skies and convenient launch angles. In comparison, US skies would be too crowded as ships and planes would need re-routing whenever a rocket is launched.
This new launch site is a new milestone for New Zealand, as the country emerges as a space leader and a hub for rocket launching. Rocket Lab aims to launch four or five rockets per month and enable more affordable space travel.
The orbital launch site has contributed to the increasing opportunities for construction workers right now in New Zealand. There has been a strong growth in construction jobs in recent years and combined with entering the space age, this country could see the construction industry grow to exceptional heights.
Even on the legislative side of things, New Zealand is making huge strides to ensure the security and efficiency of space exploration. A new regulatory regime for space and high altitude activities has been put in place. The regime will enable secure, safe and responsible space launches from New Zealand. Also, the regime includes the creation of a new law called the Outer Space and High Altitude Bill. This governs all space launches so there is complete control over all high-altitude activities that originate from New Zealand. In addition, there will be penalties for launching a space object without permission. This new bill is set to be reviewed in two years to ensure the legislation is meeting its objectives.
The future of spaceflight offers exciting possibilities, presenting lots of opportunities for employment also. Although space travel has been realised by national agencies, private companies are surging forward in the space race too. It’s exciting to see that New Zealand is one of the many nations shaping the global space economy, with a strong emphasis on being an industry leader in commercial space tourism.
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