Space centre set to start operations

A cube satellite similar to the ones that will be designed and built by the Alexandra-based...
A cube satellite similar to the ones that will be designed and built by the Alexandra-based Centre for Space Science Technology. Photo: Belgian Institute of Space Aeronomy.
A $14.7 million Alexandra-based space research centre should be operating within a less than a fortnight, and momentum is expected to gather in the following months.

Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST) establishment manager Emma Scarlet said all going well the team would move into its office in Centennial Ave,  which had been under renovation for the past few months, on July 3.

The CSST had appointed a chief executive, who would be announced before it opened.

Mrs Scarlet did not want to reveal any information about the person yet, except to say they were from outside the area.

No-one else had been officially hired yet, "although we are getting very close, and hopefully this will change within the next week".

A successful test launch by Auckland-based Rocket Lab last month was "very exciting", she said.

"It is very positive for the reputation of New Zealand as a whole, in the space sector."

The official opening would be delayed until later in the year so the chief executive could attend, but no date had been set.

The centre’s six-month "establishment phase" would end on Saturday next week,  she said.

"There has also been a lot of work done in developing relationships with, and preparing information for, a wide variety of companies, organisations and individuals, who may be involved with CSST in some way in the future."

It would be slow-moving to begin with.

"As the chief executive and other members of staff start coming on board over the next two to three months, momentum will really start to pick up."

The CSST named its board of directors in April.

The $14.7million of government funding for the project was announced in November.

The CSST will establish an international satellite data exchange and collaborate with researchers and businesses, both here and abroad, to design, build and launch New Zealand’s first fleet of cube satellites.

It will then use the space-based measurements and satellite imagery to benefit regional industries in areas such as irrigation and agriculture, snow and ice, oceans and atmosphere, regional planning and hazard management, data telemetry and forestry.

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