New Zealand heads into Outer Space

New Zealand heads into Outer Space


On 10 July 2017, New Zealand finally implement the Outer Space and High-altitude Activities Act 2017 (Act), which came into force on 21 December 2017.

On 10 July 2017, New Zealand finally implement the Outer Space and High-altitude Activities Act 2017 (Act), which came into force on 21 December 2017.
The Act provides a legal framework to regulate and issue licences for activities destined to outer space and launched from New Zealand.   The crux of the Act focuses on managing New Zealand’s continuing legal obligations under international space law whilst balancing a growing economic market.  
New Zealand's Changing Market
New Zealand is fast becoming an emerging-space-faring nation and has entered the commercial space race.  Uniquely situated on the globe, commercial enterprises have grasped at the opportunity to provide Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite services at competitive prices.
The purpose of the Act is to facilitate the development of New Zealand’s growing space industry, provide for safe and secure activities to, from and, in space, as well as maintain New Zealand’s national interests.
Legal Framework - Outer Space Licences and Permits
Whether it’s a launch, procuring a launch service for a space asset, or an activity to be undertaken at high altitude, applicants will need to apply for a licence, or a permit, under the new licensing framework.
Applying for a particular licence will depend on the proposed activity and there are certain obligations upon both the launcher (the person wishing to launch the rocket into space), and the owner of the payload (the person wishing to put their asset, or take a ride on a rocket…).  Further, the Act provides for specific licences where New Zealanders launch overseas or building a launch facility.
This licencing process is not a blanket procedure.  Instead each process operates to govern and oversee each particular licence sought and the requirements will differ among the varying licences.  It is important to note that despite satisfying the requirements laid out in the legislation, applications can still be rejected if national or security interests of New Zealand is likely to be affected.
Below is a summary form example of the requirements for a launch licence and a payload permit.
Application for a Launch Licence
In order to make an application under the new legal regime for a launch licence, you will need to satisfy the following criteria:
  • be able to illustrate that you are technically capable to conduct a launch;
  • be a fit and proper person (this is undefined);
  • that you have undertaken all reasonable steps to manage risks to public safety;
  • you have an orbital debris mitigation plan in place; and
  • that the proposed launch is consistent with New Zealand's international legal obligations.

Application for a Payload Permit
The Payload Permit criteria provides the following requirements:
  • illustrate that the payload will be managed safely:
  • an orbital debris mitigation plan, and
  • consistency with New Zealand’s international legal obligations.
Onwards and Upwards…
Thinking of launching into outer space; are you already launching and unsure if you are complying with the requirements; or, are you contemplating whether you need to hold a facility licence for your launches??? 
If you’re heading to space then we can help. 
Feel free to contact Maria to discuss any aspects of this article.

Dr-Maria-A-Pozza.jpgWritten by:
Dr Maria A Pozza
Senior Lawyer

DDI: (06) 768-3715
Mobile: (027) 595-4769

I’m on LinkedIn or follow me on twitter

Download PDF