Southland’s involvement in the space industry has been boosted by the first-ever launch of a serious rocket from within the region.

University of Canterbury Rocketry Group member Liam Sycamore powers up the in-board flight computer

On Monday Venture Southland assisted a team from the University of Canterbury rocketry group to launch a sounding rocket at Taringatura in Northern Southland.

The rocket was launched by Dr Chris Hann and his team to confirm flight dynamics modelling.

Venture Southland Engineering Projects and Ground Segment Station Manager Robin McNeill said he was excited to have been involved in the first official rocket launch from Southland soil.

“The launch involved a rather large sky-rocket filled with electronics and fuel going about 360 km/hour,” McNeill said.


Venture Southland has established close ties with the University of Canterbury rocketry group, with graduate and post-graduate students undertaking work at its Awarua satellite ground station.

McNeill said that assisting the University of Canterbury rocketry group was part of an action-packed line-up for the summer months.

“In the last month we’ve assisted with two rocket launches, with a second Rocket Lab launch this week, and we will be involved in a couple more satellite launch campaigns before March next year,” McNeill said.

Venture Southland’s involvement in the space industry includes the management of Southland’s ground stations at Awarua and Lochiel, which generates many economic benefits for the region including encouraging investment and the creation of high-tech employment opportunities in Southland.

Venture Southland has had to build another antenna at Awarua Ground Station to track nine satellites that will be launched from an Orbital ATK launch in February.

Although none of the satellites will be visible to the human eye, it is still a sign of Southland’s increasing dominance in the space sector.