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NZ Space Agency launches new tool to track satellites, combat space debris

The New Zealand Space Agency has launched a new tool allowing people to track satellites in real time.

Alongside space situational awareness experts LeoLabs, NZSA has developed the tool - dubbed the Space Regulatory and Sustainability Platform - to track that objects launched from New Zealand comply with permit conditions.

"Lower Earth orbit is rapidly emerging as the focus of commercial space activity and is home to thousands of satellites travelling at extremely high speeds around the globe, providing us with services we rely on every day," says MBIE General Manager of Science, Innovation and International Peter Crabtree.

"It's also home to a growing population of debris, increasing the risk of collisions that could potentially create thousands of new particles of debris and damage expensive equipment. As a launching nation, we have a responsibility to minimise orbital debris and preserve space for future generations. Understanding where the objects that we launch are is the first step towards doing this.

"By ensuring these objects stay within the expected risk profiles, we develop an understanding of an operator's compliance record and potential collision risk. We are also meeting our international obligations as a responsible launching state."

The platform will alert the NZSA if and when a satellite travels outside of its regulatory limits, and becomes a collision risk with another object.

NZSA's new satellite tracking tool Source: NZSA