An aerospace testing and space launch site is to be built near Christchurch in New Zealand on the Kaitōrete Spit.
The new R&D facility is part of a project being run by the New Zealand Government and company Kaitōrete that will also see the environmental redevelopment of the area.
The New Zealand Government and Rūnanga are to develop the plans further and work with the aerospace sector on what the facilities should look like over the next three years.
The Kaitōrete Spit is a 25km (15 miles) stretch of land on the coast south of Christchurch. Around 1,000 hectares of land on the Spit will be bought for Project Tāwhaki and which is a 50/50 joint venture between the New Zealand Government and the Rūnanga, the Māori tribal council.
The land, which is important culturally to the Māori and is internationally recognized as ecologically important has previously been used for space launches by NASA during the 1960s. Satellite launch company Rocket Lab also considered the area as a launch site before selecting an alternative at Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand, local media reports.
The New Zealand Government predicts the facility could bring up to $300 million (US$218 million) in annual benefits after 10 years to the region.
New Zealand’s Minister of research, science and innovation Megan Woods said, “Suitable sites for a space launch and aerospace testing facilities are scarce globally and this long finger of land along the coast of Canterbury is an ideal location. I’m delighted that we can come together in partnership with Kaitōrete Limited to achieve collective conservation, cultural and economic wins,” Megan Woods said.
“We will work in partnership with the Rūnanga to develop a conservation plan that will protect and rejuvenate the special ecological and cultural areas on and around the site while allowing for R&D activity,” Megan Woods said.