Innovative Partnerships sets sights on space

On: 1 October 2018

American space innovator LeoLabs has announced it will establish a phased-array radar in New Zealand to track small satellites and space debris – the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

The radar will be able to track objects as small as two centimetres in low Earth orbit and will be one of only three currently operating in the world. LeoLabs’ pioneering technology provides high resolution mapping data and services to mitigate the risks of collisions that could potentially create thousands of new particles of space debris and damage expensive equipment.

LeoLabs credits its decision to invest in New Zealand in part to the support it received through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Innovative Partnerships programme.

Innovative Partnerships helps future-focused companies and individuals connect, collaborate and innovate in New Zealand. Companies are connected with the right people, businesses, agencies, research organisations and universities, as well as supported through their navigation of central and local governments.

LeoLabs and MBIE, which also houses the New Zealand Space Agency, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing to work together to grow New Zealand’s space industry and capabilities in space-related R&D, and to support LeoLabs in making connections within New Zealand’s space ecosystem.

LeoLabs’ presence in New Zealand will be hugely beneficial to New Zealand’s emerging space industry and is part of a wider plan within the Innovative Partnerships programme to build a thriving innovation ecosystem attracting R&D particularly in new space, advanced aviation technologies and future foods.

LeoLabs’ entry into New Zealand is another success for Innovative Partnerships. Earlier this year, Zephyr Airworks credited the programme as part of the reason it is testing its revolutionary air taxi technology in New Zealand.

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