NZ Space Agency

We are the lead agency for space policy and legislation. The new agency, formed in 2016 within MBIE, is encouraging New Zealand’s participation in the global space economy.

The New Zealand Government has announced the development of a new regulatory regime for space and high altitude activities.

It will ensure the development of a peaceful, safe, responsible and secure space industry that meets New Zealand’s international obligations.

The space and high altitude regulatory regime will include a new law – The Outer Space and High Altitude Activities Bill which had its first reading on 18 October 2016, a treaty with the United States – the Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA) and Accession to the United Nations Convention on Registration.

New Zealand joins a small group of space-faring nations using disruptive, innovative technologies to tackle some of our planet’s big challenges and to create new and exciting opportunities for economic growth. Read more about economic benefits in The Sapere Report available in the Background information section.

Space is of immense strategic importance. Satellites enable the provision of critical every day services and infrastructure including banking, transportation, electricity, telecommunications, navigation, remote sensing (with applications ranging from agriculture and land-use monitoring to disaster management and climate change) and national security.

Globally, the space economy is a multi-billion dollar business and becoming more and more pervasive.

Why has New Zealand joined the global space economy?

We have entrepreneurs already working in space related activities. The development of a New Zealand-based space industry offers some great economic opportunities.

A key player is Rocket Lab - a commercial space launch operator using innovative and disruptive technology developed in New Zealand and employing highly skilled people in New Zealand.

It is planning to provide frequent, low cost rocket launch services to a growing international small satellite industry.

New Zealand’s location is considered important as it provides access to particular launch angles, clear skies and clear seas to enable frequent launches.

There are opportunities for New Zealand to take a more active role in this high value, knowledge-intensive economy.

A New Zealand-based space industry not only builds our capacity and expertise in space activities, but also provides opportunities to apply the associated advanced technologies to a range of downstream applications as diverse as more reliable telecommunications, more advanced climate data modelling and environmental research.

These opportunities would feed into other New Zealand high technology businesses, and the development of associated niche hi-tech, high-value, manufacturing companies.

The Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA)

The TSA is a bilateral treaty between the New Zealand Government and the United States Government to enable the use and secure management of US rocket and satellite technology in New Zealand; and to protect New Zealand’s national interests.

The TSA enables commercial entities in New Zealand to import launch technology and satellites from the US. The US has similar treaties with other countries.

The Outer Space and High Altitude Activities Bill

The Outer Space and High Altitude Activities Bill provides the regulatory regime to fully implement the TSA.

In addition it will enable safe, secure, peaceful and responsible satellite launches from New Zealand; and ensure compliance with international obligations.

The Bill was referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee for consideration; and is expected to be in law later in 2017.

Public submissions on the Bill closed Thursday 1 December 2016.

Accession to the United Nations Convention on Registration

There are five United Nations space treaties. New Zealand is already a Party to the Outer Space Treaty (ratified in 1968), the Rescue Agreement (ratified in 1969), and the Liability Convention (ratified in 1974).

New Zealand is now becoming a party to the United Nations Convention on Registration, which is a system for the mandatory registration of space objects launched into outer space. It provides a mechanism within which to agree with other States on who should register, and retain jurisdiction and control over, a space object; and enable identification of space objects.

Becoming a party to the Convention is in line with New Zealand’s commitment to promoting the responsible use of space.

The Registration Convention is currently undergoing Parliamentary treaty examination.

COPUOS Committee

We have also submitted an application to become members of COPUOS - the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.