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Space Bill passes its first reading

Hon Steven Joyce

Minister for Economic Development

18 October 2016
Media Statement

Space Bill passes its first reading

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has welcomed the first reading of the Outer Space and High Altitude Activities Bill in Parliament today.

“This Bill is a significant milestone for the development of a New Zealand-based space industry. Space is now a global multi-billion dollar industry and this Bill is New Zealand’s passport to be part of that industry,” Mr Joyce says.

“The Bill establishes a regulatory regime for space launches, the deployment and operation of payloads such as satellites; and governs high altitude activities from New Zealand.”

Mr Joyce says the new regime will ensure the development of a peaceful, safe and responsible space industry that meets our international obligations, including the Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA), recently signed with the United States.

“A New Zealand space industry has the opportunity to build our capacity and expertise across a broad spectrum of space and high altitude activities from rocket technology to the use of satellites to perform functions that benefit our economy, environment and society.

“Satellites enable a range of critical services and infrastructure that we use every day including for banking, telecommunications, the internet, navigation, disaster response, earth monitoring and national security.”

Due to technological innovation the cost of accessing space is falling, driving demand for services such as those offered by Rocket Lab – an innovative new company founded by New Zealander Peter Beck. It intends providing a dedicated, lower cost and frequent space launch service and will launch rockets from the Mahia Peninsula later this year.

“Rocket Lab is capitalising on some of New Zealand’s advantages as an attractive location for space launches. We have clear skies, access to good launch angles, a skilled workforce and an innovation-friendly business environment,” Mr Joyce says.

Rocket Lab intends commencing launches before the Bill is able to become law so the Government and Rocket Lab have signed a contract as an interim measure. The contract authorises Rocket Lab's space activities to be conducted from New Zealand, manages Government liability under the United Nations Liability Convention, and implements New Zealand's obligations under the TSA enabling it to enter into force. Once the Bill is enacted, Rocket Lab will be subject to the new regulatory framework.

“This legislation is another of the range of measures that the government is putting in place through the Innovation stream of the Business Growth Agenda to enable the development of New Zealand’s high-tech sector. New Zealand is becoming increasingly known in the world for a range of exciting new industries, alongside our more traditional exports.”

The Bill will be considered by the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade select committee and the Government is seeking it to come into law in mid-2017.


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