Protest outside Rocket Lab’s Site Raises Awareness over Military Contracts

30th Jun 2021
Rocket Lab MethaneSat

US-owned but based in New Zealand, Rocket Lab has launched multiple satellites on behalf of foreign military forces with the blessing of New Zealand’s government. These actions have stirred New Zealand’s Green Party to demand an outright ban of such commercial rocket launch activities. Green Party intelligence and security speaker Teanau Tuiono told demonstrators outside the Rocket Lab facility that he would be launching a member’s bill in the country’s parliament. The bill proposes changes to the Outer Space and High Altitude Activities Act that would bar companies from launching satellites for military clients anywhere in New Zealand.

Rocket Lab Partnering With US Army

Talking to the media, Tuiono stated, “Rocket Lab is a US military contractor, let’s be very clear about that.” He continued by launching an attack on the rocket launch activity carried out on behalf of the US intelligence agencies and military. He declared that his country’s government has a responsibility to ensure that technologies sent into orbit from New Zealand soil do not assist other countries’ military ambitions.

Rocket Lab Denies Enabling Weapons Programmes

The last government-approved Rocket Lab military launch was the Gunsmoke-J in March for the US Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command. The satellite is engineered to help improve America’s long-range combat support capabilities, including precision missile strikes. Rocket Lab has moved to defend itself, stating that the company didn’t participate in rocket launch projects related to nuclear weaponry or armament programs. The company argued that billions of people in the civilian world rely on technology enabled by defence satellites. Rocket Lab also drew comparisons with Google Maps, which runs on a satellite infrastructure maintained by the US Air Force.

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