It’s clear local mana whenua were misled by Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck when iwi land at Mahia Peninsula was leased to launch satellites into space.
At the time Peter Beck was clear Rocket Lab would be used for civilian purposes only and would not take up military contracts, despite this being a particularly lucrative path to take.
Fast forward a few years and we find Beck has abandoned any principles he may have had and his company is now majority owned by the US military and is launching satellites for US military purposes.
The government has to sign off on each launch to make sure it is in line with what’s acceptable to this country but it’s clearly a rubber stamp process conducted by Stuart Nash.
Any assurances from Peter Beck or Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash, who signs off on the launches for the government, that Rocket Lab’s work is for the betterment of mankind are not credible.
Peter Beck sets up straw man arguments saying claims of Rocket Lab weaponizing space are “misinformation” and the company would “not deal in weapons”. “We’re certainly not going to launch weapons or anything that damages the environment or goes and hurts people,” he told Newshub last year.
What nonsense. These are “straw-man” arguments. No-one has claimed the rockets contain weapons but what is absolutely clear is that the US military launches rockets for military purposes and this is what is happening at Mahia.
The NZ Herald reported last year on the capabilities of “Gunsmoke-J satellites”, which have been launched from Mahia for the US military, saying:
The other is the “Gunsmoke-J” satellite being launched for the US Army’s Space and Missile Defence Command (SMDC).
Gunsmoke-J is a prototype for a possible series of nano-satellites that will collect targeting data “in direct support of Army combat operations” according to a US Army fact sheet and a US Department of Defence budget document.
Green MP and party spokesperson for security and intelligence, Teanau Tuiono, is right to speak out:
“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”
“We should not be a launching pad for satellites for America’s military and intelligence agencies,” Green Party security and intelligence spokesman Teanau Tuiono said.
Rocket Lab is donkey deep with US strategies for “full spectrum dominance of the planet – including space. In doing so Beck and the government have made Mahia a target for conventional or even tactical nuclear weapons if hostilities break out between the US and another world power.
It’s ironic that the government provided start-up funds for Beck to get Rocket Lab off the ground only for Aotearoa New Zealand to find the company has put us to bed with a foreign military and made us target for conventional or nuclear attack.
Mana whenua in Mahia are right to be concerned – and so should the rest of us.
The government is “consulting” at the moment on these issues in their Space Policy Review.
Make a submission for the peaceful use of space here (Deadline 31 October)