The Outer Space and High-Altitude Activities Bill has been reported back to Parliament today following consideration by the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee.  

Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges says the Bill will enable the development of a safe, responsible and secure space industry in New Zealand.

“Space launches are a new activity for New Zealand, and it’s important that we provide a regulatory framework that allows companies to operate safely and securely, while encouraging innovation and industry development,” Mr Bridges says.

The committee has recommended some changes to the Bill, one of which clarifies the rules around photography of space debris to ensure New Zealand meets its international obligations.

This includes requirements to protect sensitive technology. The proposed changes make clear in which circumstances a debris protection area would be declared.

A debris protection area could be declared at sites where a launch termination or accident has occurred, but only if the Minister is satisfied doing so is necessary to ensure we comply with our obligations under our international agreements.

“The Bill does not prevent public viewing, photographing or videoing space launches. However it does aim to strike a balance between public and media freedom while ensuring the protection of sensitive technology,” Mr Bridges says.

The Minister acknowledged the work of the committee and thanked those who submitted on the Bill.

“New Zealand has advantages that make it an attractive location for space launches - clear seas and skies, access to valuable launch angles for rocket launchers, a skilled workforce, and an innovation friendly business environment.

“However, New Zealand’s interests in space extend beyond rocket launches and we have the potential to be a niche player in other parts of the industry such as space research, materials development and testing, weather and atmospheric research.

“There are potentially big upsides for New Zealand from this so it’s exciting to see this Bill moving forward,” Mr Bridges says.

The new law is expected to be passed and enacted by the end of 2017.

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