Govt, private investors urged to invest in space research, education

A technology expert is calling for the Government and private investors to boost funding for space research and innovation in a bid to get it to benefit the economy.

New Zealand has made significant improvements recently with new studies and research into outer space.

In March, Rocket Lab successfully launched a controversial satellite from its Māhia site.

Just a month later it was announced the first official Government-funded space mission will be run from a new mission control based at the University of Auckland. 

Gorilla Technology CEO and futurist Paul Spain told The AM Show on Monday there was an opportunity for the efforts into outer space to benefit New Zealand's economy if a bigger investment is made.

"There are increasing opportunities in New Zealand but we need to accelerate this. We really need to take hold of the opportunities for New Zealand as a nation with aerospace and get behind it - that's across private investment, Government investment, education - from every perspective."

He said there also needs to be money poured into space education in New Zealand and into keeping the next generation of experts in the country.

"Last week I spoke with George Li who is a Chinese Kiwi who - space hadn't come onto his radar while he was in New Zealand. He went off and studied in the US and then he had an opportunity at a US university to get involved in CubeSats [miniaturized satellites for space research] - now he's working for NASA JPL [Jet Propulsion Laboratory]. A young chap making a difference.

"We need those people to be here in New Zealand and we need to be really waving the flag for space. We need to gear up and be really set 10 - 20 years into the future.

"We need to make New Zealand a place where these things will happen on an increasing basis where those coming through the education system are geared up and are going to be employed here in New Zealand."