Alex space cen­tre is given tick

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN

First it was the gold rush, now it’s rocket science.

The Cen­tre for Space Science Tech­nol­ogy (CSST), based in Alexan­dra, Cen­tral Otago, has been se­lected to be­come New Zealand’s sec­ond Re­gional Re­search In­sti­tute.

Science and In­no­va­tion Min­is­ter Steven Joyce an­nounced the news in Alexan­dra on Tues­day.

Joyce said the cen­tre would un­der­take re­search to ex­plore the use of space-based mea­sure­ments and satel­lite im­agery unique to New Zealand to meet the spe­cific needs of re­gional in­dus­tries.

‘‘It will es­tab­lish an in­ter­na­tional satel­lite data ex­change and col­lab­o­rate with lead­ing re­searchers and busi­nesses, both here and abroad, to de­sign, build and launch New Zealand’s first fleet of cube satel­lites.’’

The Gov­ern­ment would pro­vide fund­ing of up to $14.7 mil­lion over four years for the new in­sti­tute with ad­di­tional fund­ing from in­dus­try, and it would op­er­ate as a pri­vate, in­de­pen­dently gov­erned or­gan­i­sa­tion, he said.

Greg Bodeker said it had been a long process, that started as a ‘‘small idea’’ within Bodeker Sci­en­tific.

‘‘I think this is go­ing to have national reach, and it’s de­signed to bring value to all of New Zealand, not just this re­gion. There is also plenty of op­por­tu­nity there within the Cen­tre for Space Science Tech­nol­ogy to be think­ing about tak­ing the brains that will be here in Alexan­dra and the in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty that will arise from the ac­tiv­i­ties that will go on and ex­port­ing that off­shore. I think to bring real value to New Zealand, we need to be think­ing about CCST op­er­at­ing in an in­ter­na­tional market and there is plenty of op­por­tu­nity for us to do that now.’’

Cen­tral Otago mayor Tim Cado­gan said the cen­tre would be a ‘‘game changer’’ for Alexan­dra and the Cen­tral Otago re­gion.

‘‘This is a game changer for Alexan­dra and a game-changer for Cen­tral Otago. I would put this up there next to the gold rush, frankly. We have gone from gold to wool and meat to fruit and wine and now rocket science. This isn’t just go­ing to be the 23 full­time equiv­a­lent jobs that are go­ing to come to Alexan­dra. It is go­ing to be those things that come with those jobs as well. This isn’t just $14.7m, this is a game changer.’’

He ac­knowl­edged the pre­vi­ous coun­cil who con­trib­uted $20,000 to sup­port the ini­tia­tive, as well as the Otago Re­gional Coun­cil.

DASHA KUPRIENKO

Alexan­dre’s Clau­dia Ham­mond, 11, Hazel Bodeker, 9, and Alani Lerew, 10, with Lol­lipop the lamb.

CSST will launch cube satel­lites.

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