About us

We are the front door for space activity in New Zealand – the lead government agency for space policy, regulation and sector development.

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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:

See Our regulatory regime for more information about the Act and regulations.

We support rocket launches

Rocket Lab, a United States (US) corporation with a subsidiary in New Zealand, has established the world’s first private orbital launch ranges 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.

Rocket Lab agreement

The Government has an agreement with Rocket Lab USA Inc and Rocket Lab NZ which authorises their current launch activities.

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] 

The Outer Space and High-altitude Activities Act came into force in December 2017, and Rocket Lab is in the process of transitioning to the relevant licences.

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 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 engage internationally

Our international engagement programme includes visits to, and discussions with other national space agencies, potential investors and entrepreneurs and other government regulators.

Space forums

We’ve joined international space forums such as the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).

UN space treaties

New Zealand is already a party to 4 United Nations space treaties:

  • The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (the Outer Space Treaty), which was ratified by New Zealand in 1968.
  • The Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space (the Rescue Agreement), which was ratified by New Zealand in 1969.
  • The Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects (the Liability Convention), which was ratified by New Zealand in 1974.
  • The Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space (the Registration Convention), which New Zealand acceded to in 2018.

The documents below provide more information on these treaties.

Bilateral and Technology Safeguards agreements

We have bilateral agreements with the United States Government and with the European Space Agency.

The European Space Agency/New Zealand Arrangement [PDF, 138 KB]

We’ve signed a bilateral agreement with the United States (US) Government for space launches using US technology in New Zealand, called the Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA). This agreement enables commercial entities in New Zealand to import rocket launch technology and satellites from the US.

The Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA)(external link)

Under the agreement, New Zealand agencies preserve their full existing powers and functions, such as border control, health and safety, and accident investigation, by way of a Side Arrangement.

The Technology Safeguards Agreement Side Arrangement [PDF, 100 KB] 

The TSA adds another strand to our close and long-standing relationship with the US, and opens the door for US space businesses to consider New Zealand as a business location.

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.

Last updated: 05 August 2020