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Global partnerships propel space tech research

1 June 2021

New Zealand’s aerospace industry is getting a boost through the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), to grow the capability of the sector and potentially lead to joint space missions, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods has announced. 12 New Zealand organisations have been chosen to work with world-leading experts at DLR to complete feasibility studies related to propulsion, space communications and remote sensing technologies.

Megan Woods says these feasibility studies will lead to some larger scale collaborations, potentially including joint New Zealand – Germany space missions. “New Zealand has unique competitive advantages which help to enable growth in the aerospace industry, including our geographic location and innovative thinking.

“Remote sensing technologies have huge potential for New Zealand including for monitoring the change in our oceans and searching for vessels, pollutant spills and sea ice. Optical communications will become increasingly important for securely and quickly relaying large volumes of data to and from space craft, particularly for missions to the Moon and beyond.

“Our Government has helped accelerate growth including through an enabling regulatory regime for space, the Airspace Integration Trials Programme and investing in the MethaneSAT climate change space mission,” Megan Woods said. Approximately NZ$900,000 in funding has been allocated to the 12 space technology projects from MBIE’s NZ$28 million Catalyst Fund, which is aimed at growing partnerships with international research organisations.

“Germany is one of New Zealand’s leading science and innovation partners and DLR houses some of the world’s most advanced aerospace technology capability. This is a natural partnership to enable New Zealand to be involved in cutting edge aerospace research.

“The recipients of this funding range from universities and research organisations to start-up enterprises – many of which are conducting ground-breaking research for the future of our aerospace industry. This funding will contribute to studies that are essential for the development of their overall research and innovation efforts,” Megan Woods said.

· Information about the 12 projects can be found on the MBIE website

· The Catalyst Fund supports activities that initiate, develop and foster collaborations to benefit international science and innovation for New Zealand.

· At the 2018 International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, a Letter of Intent was signed between the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment and DLR to enable joint research collaboration.

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