New Zealand–DLR frontier Joint Research Programme funding announced

Published: 04 February 2022

MBIE and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) have announced eight collaborative research projects under the New Zealand-DLR Joint Research Programme.

Spacecraft heat shielding technology, advanced laser communications, cutting edge marine debris sensors, and ‘green’ in-space propulsion systems are among eight joint projects getting $8 million via the Catalyst Fund, administered through MBIE.

The Catalyst Fund supports activities that initiate, develop and foster collaborations which take advantage of international science and innovation for New Zealand’s benefit.

Read more about the Catalyst Fund

DLR is the Federal Republic of Germany's research centre for aeronautics and space, were they conduct research and development activities in the fields of aeronautics, space, energy, transport, security and digitalisation and brings a wealth of experience and advanced aerospace capability.

In October 2018, MBIE and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) signed a Letter of Intent at the International Astronautical Congress to enable joint research collaboration, focused on space systems, earth observation technologies and applications, transport technologies and energy technologies.

The New Zealand – DLR Joint Research Programme began in 2020 with a set of twelve feasibility studies to lay frameworks for longer-term strategic research in the agreed thematic areas of propulsion, space communications and Synthetic Aperture Radar technologies.

Continuing with the success of these studies, MBIE and DLR have agreed to jointly support a set of eight research projects, with the New Zealand research teams receiving a total of NZ$8 million (GST excluded) over three years.

This funding will support the development of aerospace technology capability, establishing enduring research partnerships with Germany and jointly contributing to solving global economic, environmental, and social challenges.

The funded projects are:

  • Implementing a DLR SOFA Unit in New Zealand for Free Space Optical Communications with the University of Auckland
  • Study of N2O-based green propulsion systems for large satellite and deep space applications with Dawn Aerospace
  • An Eye in the Southern Sky with Kea Aerospace
  • Long term quantum memories for satellite quantum communication with University of Otago
  • Project Takahe: Advanced Object Detectability in a Water Clutter Environment Using InSAR through Moller Pollard
  • Continuous magnetic heat shielding for atmospheric entry using superconductivity with Victoria University of Wellington
  • Carbon-Fibre-Reinforced Polymers (CFRP) for Spacecraft and Launch Vehicles through University of Auckland
  • Thrust measurement of small-scale electric propulsion systems also with Victoria University of Wellington.

Read more about the projects (external link)


MBIE media contact