Aerospace company seeks other launch sites


June 27, 2020

Dawn Aerospace remains committed to Oamaru, despite its plans to possibly base some trial launches from Pukaki Airport in the neighbouring Mackenzie District.

The Christchurch-based space launch company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Waitaki District Council last year, which will allow it to begin test launches of its unmanned rocket-propelled space plane as early as this year.

However, while Dawn Aerospace general manager James Powell confirmed Pukaki Airport ticked all the boxes the company was looking for in terms of infrastructure, it would not come at the expense of trial flights from Oamaru.

Rather, he said it would compliment operations out of Waitaki.

"Dawn is trying to work towards a system where we can operate nationally and actually globally at a range of different airports because the type of service we want to provide is most valuable and provides the most capability if we are able to operate from a range of different places.

"We never set out to have a single or exclusive place we fly out of. Only flying out of Oamaru would limit the scope of what we could do."

He said Pukaki was geographically close enough to Oamaru’s to allow the company to carry out flight profile testing, the same reason it was exploring other potential launch sites in New Zealand, New Mexico and Europe.

It was unlikely the company would enter an agreement with the Mackenzie District Council, as it was not deemed necessary for what the company wanted to achieve.

"That is sort of not the point. The point is to establish capability to operate from lots of different locations."

Mr Powell also reassured users at both Pukaki and Oamaru Airports the company would not impact on their operations.

"Everything we are doing and building is intended to operate very harmoniously with everyone else. That’s vitally critical to be able to scale space flight infrastructure.

"We are not taking scenic flights from somebody else."

daniel.birchfield@odt.co.nz