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Photo: Twitter / Rocket Lab

Space sector contributes $1.7 billion to NZ economy

The space sector has contributed almost $1.7 billion to New Zealand's economy in the past financial year.

A new report released by the Economic Development Minister reveals the industry employs both directly and indirectly 12,000 people.

The report by Deloitte was commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and shows New Zealand has a globally unique and diverse 'New Space' economy that is driven almost entirely by the private sector, Minister Phil Twyford said.

"The findings of this report show that New Zealand is extremely well-placed to increase its share in the NZ$647 billion global space economy.'

"The space economy's $1.69 billion contribution in the 2018/19 financial year is significant for New Zealand and there is huge potential for us to grow our share,'' Mr Twyford said.

Successful New Zealand company Rocket Lab has played a key part in the growth.

"Through Rocket Lab, we are home to the world's leading small-launch provider, and we attracting other leading international space companies, such as Silicon Valley start-up LeoLabs who have built their KiwiSpace Radar in Central Otago,'' Mr Twyford said.

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New Zealand punched well in its weight class in the global market, said Dr Moritz Lehmann, senior scientist at Xerra Earth Observation Institute.

"When [increased government funding] is coupled with international collaborations, New Zealand scientists can develop advanced Earth observation systems to tackle problems that really matter, such as climate change, biodiversity and environmental stewardship."

Dr Nicholas James Rattenbury of Te Pūnaha Ātea - Auckland Space Institute - at The University of Auckland said there had been a growth in demand for university graduates who could service this growing local economy.

"At the University of Auckland, we want to train our graduates in all aspects of study that support and drive innovation in space science, engineering and technology, and which takes advantage of our position as a new actor in space in a sustainable and ethical way," he said.

The New Zealand Space Economy Report reveals:

  • Direct contribution of the space economy to New Zealand GDP in 2018/19 was $897 million, representing a value-added share of 51 percent of total revenue.
  • Indirect contribution of the space economy to the New Zealand economy in 2018/19 was $789 million.
  • Space directly supports an estimated 5,000 full-time equivalent roles (FTEs). Total employment (including indirect effects) is 12,000 FTE jobs.
  • The total estimated revenue of the space economy was $1.75 billion in 2018-19, representing 0.27 percent of global space economy revenues.

This article was first published on Radio NZ.