news
2 mins read 12 Nov 2019

Six NZ Space Projects Awarded funding with Strategic Space Fund

Investment pool of $3 million awarded to six New Zealand space projects to boost international collaboration.

Satellite image of NZ from space showing country mostly cloud free and covered in green.
New Zealand from Space. Credit: NASA Goodard Space Flight Centre.

Three New Zealand (NZ) space-based businesses and three universities are the recipients of a $500,000 grant each, awarded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) office and as part of the Catalyst: Strategic Space Fund program.

The six recipients are Dawn Aerospace, Swarm NZ Limited, University of Canterbury, Victoria University of Wellington, and the University of Auckland – which picked up two grants. The funding will be used to boost collaboration with leading international space organisations, developing new space-related technologies, accessing valuable data and leveraging support.

The partnerships will be developed with organisations such as the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), LeoLabs and the University of New South Wales Canberra.

“These partnerships enable New Zealand’s researchers to gain access to a wider range of experience and resources than they can domestically,” said International Science Partnerships Manager Simon Rae.

“The projects we have funded include innovative and novel research across a wide range of fields that will allow New Zealand researchers to develop critical competencies alongside world-class partners.”

What are the projects?

The successful project proposals cover a wide field of research including satellite design, propulsion, and orbital debris management; Earth observations; small satellite magnetic experiments and even biochemistry in space.

  • Dawn Aerospace: Replacing toxic hydrazine propulsion systems in satellites with environmentally friendly, high-performance options
  • Swarm NZ Limited: Small satellite control systems to avoid collisions and manage orbital debris
  • University of Auckland (1): Monitoring NZ’s oceans and coasts using radars onboard small satellites
  • University of Auckland (2): Small satellite mission design and control
  • University of Canterbury: Developing nanosatellites for protein crystallisation
  • Victoria University of Wellington: Managing thermal properties of superconducting magnets in small satellites

From the six, Dawn Aerospace has indicated that it will use these funds for international R&D collaboration on performance enhancements of its environmentally friendly satellite propulsion system.

“We have a lot of global interest and deals coming through for this technology,” said Jeroen Wink, Dawn CEO. “There is serious global demand in our green alternative and this funding will help achieve some key enhancements needed for large bus sizes, like infinite burn times. In doing so, the performance of this technology will then exceed the performance of hydrazine in all aspects.”