The New Zealand Space Agency has granted launch and facility licences to Rocket Lab, MBIE has announced.
The licences are the first to be granted under the Outer Space and High-altitude Activities Act 2017 and authorise Rocket Lab to operate from their private launch facility on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula for the next five years.
Under the Act, separate licences are required for the launch of a vehicle from New Zealand and operation of a launch facility in New Zealand. This step is now complete.
MBIE says Rocket Lab had previously been operating under a detailed contract with the New Zealand Government, as well as launch licences from the US Federal Aviation Administration.
While ensuring all necessary checks and balances were met the agreement was an interim measure to allow launching to commence while fit-for-purpose legislation was developed.
“As a regulator of a relatively new industry it is vital that our legislative requirements are implemented. The launch and facility licences formalise our regulatory relationship and provide Rocket Lab, the Government and the general public with greater clarity and assurance moving forward,” General Manager Science, Innovation and International and head of the New Zealand Space Agency Dr Peter Crabtree says.
“Rocket Lab has met a number of tests under the Act designed to ensure launch activities are safe, that personnel are technically capable, activities are in accordance with New Zealand’s national interests and international obligations, and that orbital debris mitigation plans are in place.
“It is absolutely critical for the broader space industry in New Zealand to have strong regulatory systems in place for the long-term,” Dr Crabtree says.