Venture Southland’s successful foray into the lucrative space industry is about to take another step forward as the organisation lends a hand toward New Zealand becoming a significant space-faring nation.

A Venture Southland managed satellite ground station will download important telemetry data from Rocket Lab’s ‘Still Testing’ rocket later this month. The Electron series rocket is due to launch between 8th and 17th December from the Mahia Peninsula and will become New Zealand’s first orbital space vehicle.

Awarua Tracking Station

An hour and 20 minutes after lift-off, the rocket will appear to the north-west of Invercargill, heading south to begin its second orbit of the Earth. Already it will have deployed satellites over Europe and the telemetry data will confirm the success of these manoeuvres.

Supporting rocket launches is not new to the regional development and tourism agency, according to Venture Southland’s head of engineering and ground segment, Mr Robin McNeill.

“We joined the space community 13 years ago when we and the French Space Agency built the Awarua Satellite Ground Station to support the European Space Agency’s Ariane 5 ATV campaigns.”

Awarua Tracking Station

“It didn’t take long before the Awarua ground station became known around the world. Today Venture Southland hosts all the big names in the small-sat satellite world. It’s no coincidence that two of Venture Southland’s customers will have satellites aboard ‘Still Testing’” said McNeill.

“It’s great to be supporting former Southlander Peter Beck’s Rock Lab for the launch, especially as his company has done so much to highlight New Zealand’s space activities on the international stage. You could say that when the rocket comes over, Peter will have come the full circle! That’s a nice touch.”