NZ Space Agency grants first launch and facility licences

Published: 15 April 2019

The New Zealand Space Agency has taken the next step in implementing New Zealand’s space legislation with the granting of launch and facility licences to Rocket Lab.

The licences are the first to be granted under the Outer Space and High-altitude Activities Act 2017 (OSHAA), marking an important step for the regulator of New Zealand’s space sector, authorising Rocket Lab to operate from their private launch facility on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula for the next five years.

Under the OSHAA, separate licences are required for the launch of a vehicle from New Zealand and operation of a launch facility in New Zealand. This step is now complete.

Rocket Lab had previously been operating under a detailed contract(external link) with the New Zealand Government, as well as launch licences from the US Federal Aviation Administration.

While ensuring all necessary checks and balances were met the agreement was an interim measure to allow launching to commence while fit-for-purpose legislation was developed.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s General Manager Science, Innovation and International and head of the New Zealand Space Agency Dr Peter Crabtree says this is a significant achievement for a country that has only recently joined the short list of space-faring nations.

“As a regulator of a relatively new industry it is vital that our legislative requirements are implemented. The launch and facility licences formalise our regulatory relationship and provide Rocket Lab, the Government and the general public with greater clarity and assurance moving forward,” Dr Crabtree says.

“Rocket Lab has met a number of tests under the OSHAA designed to ensure launch activities are safe, that personnel are technically capable, activities are in accordance with New Zealand’s national interests and international obligations, and that orbital debris mitigation plans are in place.

“It is absolutely critical for the broader space industry in New Zealand to have strong regulatory systems in place for the long-term,” Dr Crabtree says.

Dr Crabtree says New Zealand is committed to being a safe and responsible space-faring nation.

“The regulatory framework that we have moved at pace to implement ensures that all people conducting outer space or high-altitude activities are operating safely and securely, while encouraging innovation and industry development.”

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