WELLINGTON, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand first space launch site was officially opened Tuesday, with Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce saying it would help generate the national space program.
Joyce said he was looking forward to the first launches this year from the privately run Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1, on the Mahia Peninsula on the North Island's east coast, followed by more next year when Rocket Lab launched commercial payloads.
"Rocket Lab will be a catalyst for other space-related activity in New Zealand," Joyce said in a statement.
"Space activity is pervasive in our lives, to such an extent we are no longer aware that our Internet, our decision-making around energy and resource management, our marine surveillance to name only a tiny fraction, all rely on what we are doing in space."
Attracting international players would be easier now the government had established a regulatory regime to be managed by a new New Zealand Space Agency.
"The new agency has been very busy not only supporting Rocket Lab to navigate the regulatory environment, but also putting in place the foundations for an internationally credible, competitive and well-connected New Zealand-based space industry," said Joyce.
The New Zealand Space Agency would capitalize on Rocket Lab launches to help build New Zealand's capacity and expertise in all manner of space-related activities and support the strategic opportunities that were likely to flow.
The government tabled the Outer Space and High Altitude Activities Bill in Parliament this month and it was intended it will become law by mid-2017.
It would enable the development of a space industry in New Zealand, and enable regulators to manage risks and implement certain international obligations relating to space activities and space technology.
The Bill would also ensure the country's space industry met its international obligations, including the Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA), recently signed with the United States.
The U.S.-owned Rocket Lab, a commercial space launch operator using technology developed in New Zealand, had to obtain a license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration so it could conduct its space launch activities in New Zealand.