World's eye on NZ space industry progress

Clyde Space business development manager Robin Sampson (left) and Centre for Space Science...
Clyde Space business development manager Robin Sampson (left) and Centre for Space Science Technology establishment group member Jared Lewis hold a model CubeSat in Alexandra yesterday. PHOTO: JONO EDWARDS (FEB 16)
New Zealand's space industry is attracting international attention, according to a Scottish manufacturer of tiny cost-effective space satellites.

Robin Sampson, from Glasgow-based Clyde Space, was in Alexandra last week speaking to members of the Centre for Space Science Technology's (CSST) establishment group.

Mr Sampson said Clyde Space was one of the first companies to design and produce CubeSat technology when it was founded in 2005 and wanted to build on its relationship with the Alexandra-based centre for potential future collaboration.

At their smallest the instruments are 10cm10cm11.35cm and could be made for as little as $100,000, rather than traditional larger satellites that could cost up to $US20 million.

In November, $14.7 million of government funding was announced for the centre, which will use space-based measurements to aid New Zealand industries and eventually build and launch the country's first satellites.

Its opening date is planned for July 1.

Mr Sampson said CubeSats were a rapidly growing market.

Last week, 104 satellites were launched from India, in what its space agency claimed was the largest number ever launched simultaneously, and 96 of those were CubeSats, he said.

Mr Sampson's two-week trip was sponsored by the British High Commission to discuss technology and collaboration with New Zealand's space industry.

He also visited Auckland University and Rocket Lab in Auckland.

Clyde Space was involved in building Scotland's first satellite a few years ago, he said.

"So it will be awesome when New Zealand does the same.

"From my perspective there are a lot of similar needs that we have at home in Scotland in terms of access to space data. We're interested in trying to build that bridge.''

New Zealand's movements towards space technology and research had "definitely attracted a lot of attention internationally'', he said.

CSST establishment team member Jared Lewis said the centre's primary interest in CubeSat technology was around its low barrier of entry.

"It allows us to get into that industry. We also want to build that national capacity to launch them. No-one has built that operational capacity here yet.''

Bodeker Scientific director Greg Bodeker visited Clyde Space during the CSST proposal phase and the establishment group wanted to maintain that relationship, he said.

"We're looking to learn from everyone else about what worked for them.''

The centre would likely not launch satellites for another 18 months, but it would build and design them before that.

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