New Zealand – Peacekeeper on the last frontier?
New Zealand peace and disarmament researchers say government should take a global leadership role to protect Earth by ensuring outer space is not at the center of a new arms race .
This week, the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research hosted a conference on the security of outer space. Participants heard from global experts who have universally expressed their concern over the accelerating arms race in outer space. The presenters reiterated the failure of the Outer Space Treaty to ensure that outer space is used only for peaceful purposes and the problem of outer space now being seen as a domain of war (with earth, l ‘air and sea).
Experts also drew attention to the problem of regulating space activities now that private interests instead of state agencies have become the dominant players in space launches over the past decade.
“New Zealand is one of the few countries with space launch capabilities thanks to Rocket Lab, and the New Zealand government approving these satellite launches,” said Eliana Darroch of Auckland Peace Action.
“The risk is that New Zealand will align itself with a global superpower that sees space as the last frontier of war, so they are scrambling to put the odds on their side by injecting the most military technology into it. ‘space as quickly as possible. “
“There are opportunities for New Zealand to take a moral stance at the United Nations like we did with nuclear non-proliferation, but that means at home we need to make sure that launches don’t. are used only for peaceful purposes. “
Rocket Lab shares surged this week with news that the company was awarded another major contract with the U.S. military.
“If Rocket Lab wants to serve American military interests, then they should do it in the United States,” said Sonya Smith of Rocket Lab Monitor, an east coast-based resident research group near the Mahia launch site.
“Mahia’s space launches for the US military are reminiscent of US and French nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific. New Zealand has a strong track record of promoting peace on the world stage, but that is impossible if we allow the militarization of space from New Zealand, ”said Ms. Smith.
“Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta called New Zealand’s outer space policy based on the principle of ‘Kaitiakitanga’ – that’s a great idea, but right now our space policy literally allows for a new arms race that is the antithesis of being kaitiaki for Space and the people of Earth.
Based on assessments shared at the UN conference, peace groups say demilitarizing space is a goal the New Zealand government should embrace as other countries like China and the United States rushes to control space and establish colonies on the moon.
Launching rockets for US military contractors or the US Spaceforce damages our global reputation as a country capable of working to create and maintain peace in the world and outside of Earth’s atmosphere. New Zealand citizens do not want to be drawn into a conflict created by the hyper-militarized US Army Space Force. Earlier this week, we dubbed Labor MP Stewart Nash as the new US Spaceforce minister. Although he is technically employed by the New Zealand government, the decisions he made in authorizing space launches… ..
Rocket Lab is set to launch another military satellite launch slated for early October, the first in a rapid succession of launches scheduled over the next month that represent the company’s fastest launch times to date. The launches are for BlackSky Corporation and Infrastructure Inc, both US military contractors.
In March, Rocket Lab announced that it had signed an agreement with Spaceflight Infrastructure Inc. to deploy satellites for Black sky including a US Army program focused on “tactical geospatial intelligence‘.
MilSat Magazine, an industry publication covering military satellite developments states:
“By combining geospatial information with a variety of sources, sensor data and IoT flows, as well as leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) techniques, BlackSky’s Specters The AI platform delivers an unprecedented level of data depth and analysis for customers at almost instantaneous speeds… The TacGEO program is designed to support the [US Department of
Defense]reactive and space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) requirements for tactical applications.
In May, the launch of the BlackSky satellites failed and the rocket crashed into Earth. BlackSky said at the time that it was still engaged in the deployment of a massive constellation of satellites that are part of a trend that space experts criticized as creating a dangerous amount of objects and debris to orbit around. of the earth.
Peace groups call on Ministers Nanaia Mahuta and Stuart Nash to ensure that the New Zealand public and Maori have the opportunity to participate in an upcoming review of the Outer and High Altitude Activities Act, and ensure that New Zealand does not grant authorization for launches. involved in the militarization of space.
“We also urge concerned citizens to contact their MPs and ministers to let them know that New Zealand must maintain our position as a world leader on non-proliferation and stop approving the launch of new military payloads since September. New Zealand soil, ”said Ms. Darroch, who is collecting signatures. in a Petition Station Action of people concerned about the situation.
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