Space for peace

Private companies must be stopped from launching rockets on behalf of foreign militaries into space, the Green Party says.

“Weaponising space is not in our national interest and goes against our international commitments to ensuring peace in space. The Government should put in place clear rules that stop our whenua being used to launch rockets on behalf of foreign militaries,” says the Green Party’s spokesperson for security and intelligence, Teanau Tuiono. 

Over the last five years, the Government has provided permits for at least 30 rocket launches and some included payloads for the US military and other foreign military and intelligence actors. Some of these payloads could facilitate the command and control of nuclear weapons. The Government is currently consulting on a National Space Policy, which must bring this to an end. 

“The Minister responsible can decline permits that go against the national interest. The problem is that it’s unclear when the national interest test should be invoked. 

“As a result, the Government has signed off launches on behalf of the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command, US Space Force along with guns for hire like BlackSky - and no national interest analyses have bbeen undertaken. 

“The Government has been warned that launching space satellites from Aotearoa could improve the ability of foreign actors to control a nuclear explosive device. But right now, the Government is allowing operators like Rocket Lab to put payloads into space for the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command and the US Space Force.

“Thirty five years ago, Parliament banned nuclear weapons and propulsion from New Zealand's land, sea and airspace. People are rightly proud that we have one of the strongest anti-nuclear weapon laws in the world. We risk betraying the anti-nuclear generation and handing our kids a less safe world. 

“People deserve to know what is being launched into space from our whenua. As a minimum, the National Space Policy should give people the power to decide how we want our expertise in space to be used.

“To avoid the militarisation of space and the risk it poses to future conflict, Aotearoa should have binding new rules that prevent all future Governments from acting in the interests of foreign military and intelligence agencies,” says Teanau Tuiono. 

The Green Party’s spokesperson for Māori development, Dr. Elizabeth Kerekere added: “Tangata whenua have to have a greater say over what happens on their whenua. Rocket Lab’s presence in Mahia is an example of tangata whenua being shut out of decision-making processes. 

“Te Tiriti o Waitangi guarantees tino rangatiratanga over their whenua, awa, and moana but the current law does not require the Crown or private space operators to acknowledge that..

“I will attend the public consultation on the National Space Policy Review in Mahia to support mana whenua,” says Dr. Kerekere.