“Ground control to Major Tom …”
Back in 2019 I convinced the NZ Government (MBIE and the New Zealand Space Agency to be precise) to partner with the US-based Environmental Defense Fund (my client and former employer) in launching a satellite that will be provide the most detailed measurement of methane emissions yet achieved, globally.
The satellite will have very high resolution enabling methane emissions to be spotted and measured from space right down – in the case of agricultural emissions – down to a major feedlot.
The partnership has blossomed and I’m thrilled that this week Minister Megan Woods announced that mission control for this $100 million space endeavour will be based in Auckland, managed by Rocket Lab. Once it is running smoothly, it will be transferred to Te Pūnaha Ātea-Auckland Space Institute as the host.
“This international partnership will accelerate our capability in our rapidly growing space sector, increase our reputation for future space missions and provide vital data to support our own climate change policy,” Megan Woods said. “The mission will see the New Zealand Space Agency partner with one of the world’s leading environmental NGOs, the Environmental Defense Fund.”
The EDF team, focusing on building the satellite and then monitoring industrial methane emissions, will include Harvard University and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, joined by a NZ companion team led by NIWA focused on agricultural emissions. The NZ Government is putting $26m into the project.
Originally, I had hoped that Rocket Lab would be able to launch the satellite from right here in Hawke’s Bay, but the satellite will be too heavy for their current launch vehicle.
The satellite is scheduled to launch late in 2022.
HB Today was kind enough to write up the story back in November 2019.