New Zealand CubeSat Programme

June 3, 2016

One of the objectives of CSST is to establish New Zealand’s first satellite program, which will focus on small, low cost, CubeSats. New Zealand is currently one of the few Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries that does not operate one or more satellites.  Initiating a national satellite programme will deliver tailored space based measurements to New Zealand’s industries and catalyse growth of new high-tech industries that coalesce around satellite programmes. New Zealand already has a domestic satellite launch capability provided by Rocket Lab, a Parent Organisation of CSST. The company is well positioned to claim a first mover advantage with key competitors being approximately three years behind, and with full support from experienced United States based space-industry investors.


The immediate benefits of New Zealand building, designing and operating its own satellites are:

  1. High-tech industries will develop and grow rapidly around CSST regional centres as new technologies and applications are developed that require space-derived data and services.
  2. Many sectors of New Zealand industry will be able to call on New Zealand-dedicated space-based imagery and ancillary measurements. While these data could, in principle, be obtained from international agencies, the orbits of those satellites are seldom optimised to provide best coverage for New Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that the configuration of real time on-board measurements (e.g. camera pointing) will be optimised for New Zealand.
  3. A New Zealand satellite programme will raise awareness of the major opportunities that exist in tapping the international pipeline of space-based measurements, which is currently massively underutilised.
  4. It would also considerably benefit CSST’s and New Zealand’s international credibility by contributing data back to shared international archives of space-based measurements.
  5. There are wider benefits to the innovation system of having people working on diverse areas of very advanced technology. In particular, there is huge potential for ideas to feed into existing industries or to be spun out into new start-ups, when teams of engineers and scientists are working on advanced projects. The development of a CubeSat platform will result in new research in the areas of avionics, software and communications that are likely to benefit other industries.