6 Sep 2022

$15.7m for space initiatives: Speedy delivery crucial, sector leaders say

9:00 am on 6 September 2022

Space sector leaders say the government needs to move quickly to deliver promised funding to avoid stumping the industry's development.

Stuart Nash

Regional and Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash yesterday announced there will be consultation on a national space sector strategy, and a review of space policy. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Yesterday, the government announced a $15.7 million boost at the inaugural Space Summit in Ōtautahi, with $9m set to go towards research with NASA, $3 million to a program trialling pilot-less aircraft, and $3.7m on regulating new technology.

Dawn Aerospace chief executive Stefan Powell said the funding would unlock significant growth.

"It's a few million dollars investment into the Civil Aviation Authority to enable potentially hundreds of millions of dollars worth of industry," Powell said.

Alongside the cash boost, Regional and Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash announced consultation on a national space sector strategy, and a review of space policy.

"As we have heard from many of you, New Zealand currently lacks a national strategy for growing the aerospace sector. We need such a strategy to coordinate government and sector actions," he told summit participants.

The aim is to have an industry of global importance that is at the forefront of innovation by 2030.

Aerospace Christchurch president Mark Rocket, who is also chief executive of Kea Aerospace, wanted the strategy done and government money flowing within the next six months.

"The national strategy has been in various draft forms for a number of years, and we really need to have that clarity as a nation."

Powell also said the new promises needed to be delivered soon to avoid stumping the industry's growth.

"The rate of change really needs to be kept up with by the regulators themselves, because they become really governing on what we can do, how fast we can move. Lots of the technologies that we're developing do push regulation."

Rocket said he hoped the national strategy would earn the industry more recognition.

"We know that we are great wine makers, great boat builders, great film makers, but people don't realise that we're also innovators and explorers for aerospace.

"I'd really love to see that eventuate where we're talking about aerospace a lot more and we're identifying as serious aerospace participants in the world."

Public consultation on the national space strategy is open until 12 October.

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