We are the front door for space activity in New Zealand – the lead government agency for space policy, regulation and sector development.
On this page
We support rocket launches, high-altitude vehicle and payload permitting
Rocket Lab, a United States (US) corporation with a subsidiary in New Zealand, has established the world’s first private orbital launch range on the Mahia Peninsula, on the East Coast of New Zealand.
Rocket Lab’s mission is to remove the barriers to commercial space by providing frequent launch opportunities to low Earth orbit. Rocket Lab conducted its first test launch in May 2017 with its first fully commercial launch completed on 11 November 2018.
In addition to launch and facility licences, we also conduct assessments for payloads and high-altitude vehicles.
See Our regulatory regime for more information.
We regulate the use of space from New Zealand
Our regulatory regime provides for the safe, responsible and secure use of space from New Zealand, and includes the following legislation which came into force in December 2017:
- Outer Space and High-altitude Activities Act 2017(external link)
- Outer Space and High-altitude Activities (Licences and Permits) Regulations 2017(external link)
- Outer Space and High-altitude Activities (Definition of High-altitude Vehicle) Regulations 2017(external link)
See Our regulatory regime for more information about the Act and regulations.
Prior to the legislation coming into force, the Government had an agreement with Rocket Lab USA Inc. and Rocket Lab NZ authorising their launch activity from New Zealand.
History of agreement:
Agreement between the New Zealand Government and Rocket Lab Ltd New Zealand and Rocket Lab USA Inc (Sept 2016) [PDF, 2.7 MB]
Contract between the New Zealand Government and Rocket Lab - Cabinet paper (Sept 2016) [PDF, 1 MB]
Contract between the New Zealand Government and Rocket Lab - EGI Minute (Sept 2016) [PDF, 221 KB]
We enable space-related business, science and innovation
New Zealand is an attractive place for space-related commerce.
We’re growing a space industry that is internationally credible, innovative and competitive. We want our economy to realise the economic, social and environmental benefits associated with the use of space.
We’ve already seen the following developments:
- We’re the location of choice for New Zealand’s first ever commercial rocket launcher — Rocket Lab.
Rocket Lab website(external link)
- We’re an attractive place for the launching of high-altitude balloons. Check out NASA’s super-pressure balloon activity in Wanaka in the South Island.
NASA Balloon Team Sets Up For Around-The-World Test Flight From New Zealand(external link) — NASA website
- We’ve partnered with US space mapping company LeoLabs to develop the world’s most advanced Space Regulatory and Sustainability Platform. (We also facilitated the development of LeoLabs’ Kiwi Space Radar, the first commercial radar to track objects in Lower Earth Orbit (LEO) smaller than 10 centimetres.)
Leolabs website(external link)
- We’ve established an MOU with global space and data analytics company Maxar Technologies, allowing New Zealand companies access to advanced Earth observation satellites and data analytics, and space technologies.
Maxar website(external link)
- As part of the global effort to combat climate change, we’re participating in the MethaneSAT space mission — New Zealand’s first government-funded space mission.
MethaneSAT space mission
- Since 2018 we’ve been working with The German Aerospace Center (DLR) on space technology, focusing on Propulsion, Synthetic Aperture Radar and Future Space Communications. The partnership spans research organisations and R+D intensive companies with the first phases of the programme planned to last 4-5 years.
Catalyst: Strategic – New Zealand-DLR Joint Research Programme December 2020
We’re interested in advancing areas where New Zealand has existing and emerging strengths, including developing and applying space-based data in areas such as agri-technology, hazard management, oceanography and meteorology.
Over time there may be opportunities for New Zealand businesses and other organisations to develop capabilities in a range of space-related areas — such as satellite design and manufacturing and space science, technology and engineering research activity.
For more information about why New Zealand is an attractive place to do space business, see Space-related opportunities in New Zealand.
We develop space policy and strategy
We have a work programme of strategic advice and policy development that includes assessment of, and advice on:
- the opportunities and risks associated with the use of space, and
- the role of government.
We believe New Zealand can become a significant player in the global commercial space launch industry. However, the opportunities for New Zealand are much broader than launch activities.