Southland space operations continue to gain momentum with the region yesterday playing a support role to Rocket Lab with their first fully commercial launch.

Venture Southland started its launch season yesterday by providing radio telemetry support to Rocket Lab and has one more rocket and six more satellite launch campaigns to be held through to December.

Venture Southland Ground Segment and Engineering Manager Robin McNeill said the successful launch of Rocket’s Lab’s Electron launch vehicle, suitably named ‘Its Business Time’ was a great start to the season.

Robin McNeill at Awarua Ground Station

McNeill said Venture Southland had a strong relationship with Rocket Lab and Southland antennas will be tracking the Electron and two of its payload satellites.

“We started the year supporting Rocket Lab’s successful ‘Still Testing’ launch campaign so is good to also be involved with their first fully commercial launch. We always enjoy working with the team there and, of course, it’s nice that Peter Beck, their CEO, comes from Invercargill,” McNeill said.

Following the successful launch yesterday, Southland antenna will now prepare to track two satellites launched from an Indian PSLV launcher, which is due to launch this week.

To prepare for the PSLV launch, McNeill said Venture Southland had to establish a contract with its customers to build a new antenna at its ground station facilities at Awarua.

“The weather has been kind and with top-rate contractors here in Southland we have finished and qualified the antenna with days in hand before the launch,” McNeill said.

Next on the launch schedule following PSLV launch, satellites owned by two different Venture Southland customers will be launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9.

Venture Southland’s management of Southland’s ground stations generates many economic benefits for the region including encouraging investment and the creation of high-tech employment opportunities in Southland.

Venture Southland is the implementing agency on the New Zealand side between the European Space Agency and the Government of New Zealand and is committed to promoting Southland’s Earth observation services.