NZ-Australia work to advance space science

Space Minister Judith Collins is welcoming an agreement with Australia under which up to $6 million will be available to New Zealand researchers.

The funding will be available from the Government’s Catalyst Fund to support New Zealand researchers to participate in collaborative research projects through Australia’s SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre. The projects will focus on Earth observation, space situational awareness and optical communications.

“This collaboration agreement between the New Zealand Space Agency and Australia’s leading space research organisation will advance space science, technology and cooperation and provide real world benefits to New Zealanders,” Ms Collins says.

“New Zealand has an innovative space sector. This partnership presents exciting opportunities for it to grow and thrive. It is also an opportunity to work together to solve trans-Tasman challenges.”

Earth observation projects help to unlock information about the environment and climate through observation of the Earth from high-altitude and space. This data can help monitor biosecurity risks and manage crops. 

Space situational awareness projects will help develop new ways to monitor the orbital environment and be at the forefront of global sustainable space activities, while optical communications projects investigate more efficient methods for sending large volumes of data between Earth and space and support future space exploration.

“Research enabled by this partnership will support our efforts to promote the safe and responsible use of space, make better use of aerospace enabled data in our primary industries and advance world-leading technology to improve communications,” Ms Collins says.

“It builds on similar successful international space science partnerships with NASA and the German Aerospace Center.

“This collaborative model shows how a small space agency can work with the best in the world, supporting New Zealand to contribute to and benefit from world leading space science and technology.”


About the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre:

The SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre brings together 135-plus national and international organisations with more than 400 researchers. Its portfolio of more than 150 R&D projects across advanced communication, connectivity and IoT technologies, advanced satellite systems, sensors and intelligence, and next generation Earth observation data services, continues to contribute to building Australia’s space R&D capability.

About the New Zealand Space Agency: 

The New Zealand Space Agency sits within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and is the lead government agency for space policy, regulation and sector development. 

About the funding:

The Catalyst Fund supports activities that initiate, develop and foster collaborations which take advantage of international science and innovation for New Zealand’s benefit. 

Up to $6 million will be made available over approximately three years to support the activities of New Zealand researchers participating in collaborative research projects under this agreement.

A call for proposals is planned in the coming months with the aim for successful projects to start in the second half of 2024.