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Sky no limit for Mr Joyce

By Don Farmer

[email protected]

Reading the latest pronouncement from Economic Development Minster Steve Joyce last week I actually checked the dateline on my copy of the Times-Age to see if it read April 1.

That was because I found it hard to believe Mr Joyce could truly get so excited about his having signed a contract with a company allowing it to go ahead with plans to launch rockets from Mahia Peninsula before legislation is passed in Parliament.

The minister enthused about the pending commercial space launches by Rocket Lab, founded by Peter Beck, to such an extent it sounded like an April Fool’s Day set up.

He described New Zealand as an “attractive location” for space launches because we have “clear skies, access to good launch angles, a skilled workforce and an innovation-friendly business environment.”

Trying to follow his reasoning on each of those presumed advantages is an interesting exercise.

Clear skies we may have, in parts and at times, but could they be described as an “advantage” over and above the crystal clear skies of the Australian deserts and the back blocks of Nevada for example. Hardly.

As for “access to good launch angles” well that’s a head scratcher.

Maybe we do but I guess you really do have to be a rocket scientist to understand what the term as used by Mr Joyce even means.

As a layman my reading of that was similar to letting off sky rockets on Guy Fawkes night, that being make sure you point them skywards, not too laterally or you might knock someone’s eye out.

Skilled workers we have our share of but I would not have thought we had heaps of skilled rocket launching workers and as for his last criteria “an innovation-friendly business environment” that is so broad and indefinable it can simply be described as political gobbledegook.

Good luck to Rocket Lab you have managed to get a contract signed before a bill is introduced to parliament to set the rules for launching rockets so from your stand point is all onwards and upwards from here.

New Zealand is poised on the edge of achieving its own space industry and I am personally greatly comforted by the use of the word “commercial” in Rocket Lab’s proposals.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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