LeoLabs and The New Zealand Space Agency (NZSA) collaborate to create a cloud-based software platform for tracking space activity. The multi-year agreement was announced on August 5 by New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which stated that it would result in “the world’s most sophisticated Space Regulatory and Sustainability Platform.”
In 2019, LeoLabs, which is a Silicon Valley firm focusing on monitoring events in low Earth orbit (LEO), began working with the NZSA on the platform. LeoLabs and NZSA have progressed from a prototype infrastructure that detects objects in the low Earth orbit and guarantees satellite operators follow obligations made when seeking launch licenses to an operational model in the last two years.
To date, much of LeoLabs’ work has centered on assisting satellite operators in detecting probable collisions and determining how to securely move out of the way of space debris and other satellites. In this new business venture, LeoLabs is assisting a government agency in fulfilling its responsibility to exercise supervision over space operations under the Outer Space Treaty. LeoLabs Chief Executive Officer Dan Ceperley informed SpaceNews, “We think it’s a model that can be applied around the world.” “Every spacefaring nation is responsible for a collection of assets and has an effect on the space sustainability. They ought to be aware of the dangers they face.”
The launching state is obligated by the Outer Space Treaty to authorize satellites and guarantee that satellite operators follow licensing criteria. However, this does not always occur. While many countries put a lot of work into the licensing procedure, they lack the instruments to follow satellites in space or intervene if a satellite deviates from its orbit or stops working to de-orbit within the agreed-upon timeframe. In a statement, Peter Crabtree, the general manager for science, innovation, and international in New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment said, “Our collaboration with LeoLabs has permitted us to comprehend better what’s in space, which is crucial to preserving our responsibilities as a launching nation and guaranteeing the responsible usage of the space environment.”
New Zealand has rapidly established itself as a key launch state. NZSA was created in 2016 by the country. Rocket Lab, based in California, started performing commercial missions from the private spaceport on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula two years later. So far, the business has accomplished 17 commercial orbital launches, including a launch of a US Space Force satellite on July 29.
When LeoLabs announced plans to create the Kiwi Space Radar in 2018, it first exposed its ties to New Zealand. In 2019, the S-band radar started tracking objects as tiny as 2 millimeters in diameter in low Earth orbit. The New Zealand Space Agency has taken the lead in terms of space sustainability, according to Ceperley. “For a lot of innovative enterprises, New Zealand is the space doorway, and they’ve consistently had an environmental-sustainability string running through their national ethos.”