According to a recent report, an American space innovator has chosen to set up shop in Central Otago, New Zealand.
It will be establishing phased-array radar that will track small satellites and space debris, a first in the Southern Hemisphere.
The decision to invest in New Zealand, according to the company, is due in part to the support it received from the Government’s Innovative Partnerships programme.
Small satellite traffic in space is increasing and while this presents exciting new opportunities, it needs to be managed responsibly.
The company’s pioneering technology provides high resolution mapping data and services to lessen the risks of collisions that could possibly create thousands of new particles of space debris and damage expensive equipment.
The radar has the capability to track objects as small as two centimetres in low Earth orbit.
The radar will be one of only three currently operating in the world, which will eventually become a larger network.
The Government is committed to developing New Zealand as a hub for high-value, knowledge intensive businesses that create value through innovation as well as research and development (R&D).
The presence of the LeoLabs in New Zealand will be extremely beneficial to the country’s emerging space industry.
It belongs to a bigger 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.
The Government is building on the excitement and momentum created by Rocket Lab for kiwi innovators new space.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the company, which commits both to work together in growing the space industry and capabilities in space-related R&D of New Zealand.
The MBIE leads the Innovative Partnerships programme and houses the New Zealand Space Agency. Through the MoU, the Ministry will support the company in making connections within New Zealand’s space ecosystem.
The company’s entry into the country 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.
Cora is an air taxi which combines electric power, self- piloting software and vertical take-off to pioneer an entirely new way to fly.
Innovation does not happen in isolation and the country’s unique expertise, people and technology, coupled with its size and location, offer compelling advantages for international collaboration.
Innovative Partnerships helps future-focused companies and individuals connect, collaborate and innovate in New Zealand.
It engages with innovative companies that are pushing the boundaries of technology and solving the world’s big problems, and assist them in finding their New Zealand opportunity.
Companies are given the opportunity to connect with the right people, businesses, agencies, research organisations and universities.
They also get supported through their navigation of central and local governments. Companies are not provided any direct financial incentives through the programme.