Space centre ready to launch
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.
CSST establishment manager Emma Scarlet holds model satellites which could be designed in Alexandra in the future.