University of Auckland to Host New Zealand’s First Space Mission
May 10, 2021
The University of Auckland’s Te Pūnaha Ātea-Auckland Space Institute has been announced as the site of mission control for New Zealand’s first government funded space mission.
The mission involves launching a satellite that will “detect global methane emissions with unprecedented accuracy,” according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) website.
The mission is a joint venture between the government and American non-profit organisation the Environmental Defense fund. The satellite will be built by MethaneSAT, a subsidiary of the Environmental Defense fund.
MBIE says the data will be used by the Environmental Defense fund “to catalyse a reduction in methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure by at least 45 percent by 2025. In addition to oil and gas, MethaneSAT also has the potential to assess emissions from a range of anthropogenic methane sources, including agriculture.”
The mission has been in the works for a while, with MBIE signing an agreement with MethaneSAT LLC and the Environmental Defense Fund to collaborate in 2019. The government has invested $26 million into the mission, and much of it has been used to construct the mission’s control centre.
Rocket Lab will be managing the operation for the first year before this is handed over to Te Pūnaha Ātea-Auckland Space Institute. The launch is estimated to take place in 2022.