World’s first ‘next-generation’ space radar unveiled in Naseby

Published: 16 October 2019

Silicon Valley start-up LeoLabs have unveiled the first ‘next generation’ space radar outside of the United States today in Naseby, Central Otago.

The Kiwi Space Radar was officially opened at a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by officials from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), LeoLabs’ board of directors, and other key stakeholders.

The phased-array radar will provide high resolution data on objects in low Earth orbit down to a size of 2cm. It is the third radar in LeoLabs’ global network and offers a whole new dimension of foundational mapping data and services to mitigate the risks of collisions in space.

Customers include commercial satellite operators, government regulatory and space agencies, and satellite management services firms. It also has the potential to open up whole new market segments, in for example, insurance companies offering bespoke space-related services.

LeoLabs and MBIE signed an agreement in September 2018 to work together on space-related R&D projects. The Kiwi Space Radar will provide valuable data to the New Zealand Space Agency, housed within MBIE, enabling the tracking of objects launched from New Zealand and the monitoring of compliance with our space regulations.

Dr Peter Crabtree General Manager, Science, Innovation and International and head of the New Zealand Space Agency, says as New Zealand’s space industry continues to grow, the need to build space sector capability is critical.

“At the outset of this partnership we were clear that a key outcome would be improving our understanding and capability in space situational awareness, an important step for the New Zealand Space Agency, particularly with respect to our international obligations as a launching state,” says Dr Crabtree.

MBIE is working across New Zealand’s economy to grow and scale R&D - a key part of the Government’s vision for a more productive, sustainable and inclusive economy.

“Innovation doesn’t happen in isolation and our partnership with LeoLabs is just one example of how our unique expertise, people and technology, coupled with our size and location, offer compelling advantages for international investment.”

MBIE media contacts

Phone: 027 442 2141