New Zealand has a new Ministerial position, the Minister for Space. The Hon Judith Collins will hold this position, together with her other portfolios, including being the Minister of Science, Innovation and Technology.
So, what might aerospace look like under the new National-led Government? While the National-led Government Coalition Agreements do not mention aerospace, we can likely get a steer from the campaign plan (“Unleashing New Horizons”) that the National Party released prior to the election. In that a plan, the National party set a goal for aerospace to contribute $10 billion to the New Zealand economy by 2030 – six-times more than currently.
In addition to creating the new Minister, the key elements of that plan include:
- deliver a high performing regulatory regime that makes timely and consistent decisions so it is easy to do business in New Zealand and to allow New Zealand to compete for talent and capital.
- focus on education so that students have the knowledge and skills to pursue science, engineering and aerospace careers, and establish the Prime Minister’s Space Prize to be awarded each year to a top school student in a space or aerospace-themed competition.
- create an accelerated pathway for residency for exceptional talent who want to contribute to New Zealand’s space and advanced aviation sectors.
- establish two dedicated testing zones for space and advanced aviation in addition to the zone at Kaitorete near Christchurch.
- rationalise procurement of satellite data and Earth imagery by requiring government agencies to share purchased information with other agencies.
These actions will assist the sector to work towards some of the goals set out in the Aotearoa New Zealand Aerospace Strategy 2023-2030 that was released in July this year. That strategy sets out a vision for a thriving aerospace sector that supports tens of thousands of jobs and inspires an aerospace pathway. In support of the vision are three foundational pillars and give goals.
The pillars are:
- Unlocking Aerospace Potential: which highlights the need to foster a strong economic foundation to support the growth and development of the sector;
- Future-facing Government and Aerospace: which recognises the need to create a responsive, fit-for-purpose regulatory system to enable aerospace technologies;
- Aerospace Nation: which aspires to define aerospace as forming part of our national identity, along with the desire to inspire the next generation of New Zealanders.
The five goals are:
- Build a Sustainable Air-Passenger Journey: which focuses on sustainable aviation technologies and using renewable energy resources in aerospace;
- Safely Integrate Autonomous Aerial Vehicles: which focuses on removing barriers to the safe use of autonomous aerial vehicles;
- Be at the Forefront of Global Sustainable Space Activities: which focuses on being a leader in preventing the growth of space debris and enabling technologies to clean it up;
- Actively Support Human Exploration in Space: which focuses on developing high value solutions that support space exploration, ie building on New Zealand’s strengths in areas such as advanced manufacturing, in-space propulsion, optical communications, and space mission management;
- Enhance Decision-Making Using Aerospace-Enabled Data: which focuses on growing downstream data and software innovation for decision making by government and others.
The strategy also describes current activities that fit into these goals and outline actions and investment to help achieve the strategy. More information on the strategy can be found on the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment’s website, accessible here.
At this stage, it is a watching brief to see how the new Minister might refine the existing strategy.