Space cen­tre ready to launch

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - RHYS CHAM­BER­LAIN

Satel­lite data tech­nol­ogy that could cal­cu­late how much wa­ter was needed to ad­e­quately ir­ri­gate a farm pad­dock is just one of the re­search ideas for a new Cen­tral Otago space cen­tre.

Al­though no pro­pos­als have been for­mally sub­mit­ted, ideas like gath­er­ing soil mois­ture data from a 10 cu­bic cen­time­tre satel­lite in space are al­ready be­ing mooted for Alexan­dra’s new $14.7 mil­lion Cen­tre for Space Science Tech­nol­ogy (CSST).

Es­tab­lish­ment man­ager Emma Scar­let of­fi­cially con­cludes her role on June 30 af­ter six months, with her fi­nal act be­ing to em­ploy the chief ex­ec­u­tive.

Scar­let said it had been ‘‘very, very full’’ but felt CSST was ‘‘on track’’ to move New Zealand ahead in data-based space devel­op­ment and re­search.

The es­tab­lish­ment of CSST in Alexan­dra was part of a gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tive to boost re­gional economies.

Al­though Scar­let couldn’t put an ex­act num­ber on it, it’s thought CSST would em­ploy be­tween 20 and 40 staff.

‘‘It’s all about boost­ing eco­nomic growth,’’ Scar­let said.

‘‘CSST will be like a data hub for all of New Zealand.’’

The cen­tre would call for pro­pos­als early next year and then de­velop prod­ucts and ser­vices for those, like be­ing able to as­sess how much wa­ter needed to be re­leased from a pivot to ad­e­quately ir­ri­gate a farm pad­dock and re­duce runoff.

‘‘The satel­lites will be to meet an iden­ti­fied need.

‘‘That is only a very small part of it and the last part of it.’’

Space-based mea­sure­ments and satel­lite im­agery would be used in in­dus­tries like ir­ri­ga­tion and agri­cul­ture, snow and ice, oceans and at­mos­phere, re­gional plan­ning and haz­ard man­age­ment and forestry, Scar­let said.

Alexan­dra was cho­sen over other ar­eas as it was a ’’nat­u­ral fit’’ with the ma­jor­ity of in­dus­try iden­ti­fied for devel­op­ment, on the doorstep.

The cen­tre would move from its Russell St premises into a Cen­ten­nial Ave build­ing early next month.

The of­fi­cial open­ing would take place in Au­gust or Septem­ber.

Scar­let thanked the ‘‘amaz­ing group of very clever peo­ple’’ and hoped to con­tinue with CSST in some form.

RHYS CHAM­BER­LAIN

CSST es­tab­lish­ment man­ager Emma Scar­let holds model satel­lites which could be de­signed in Alexan­dra in the fu­ture.

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