The geographical location of New Zealand made it ideal for rocket launches and space tourism.

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The geographical location of New Zealand made it ideal for rocket launches and space tourism.

The last limit of law is reached with the very first class in space law, which was introduced at Waikato University.

The six-week course is part of the University's summer school program to help students understand space issues that New Zealand is facing.

These include manned space and space operations, space tourism, space transport, satellite communications, international space services and dispute resolution related to space activities.

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The six-week work is primarily aimed at second-year students studying law, but also students from other programs are welcome.

Senior lecturer Anna Marie Brennan said it had aroused great interest – 27 students were enrolled.

Anna Marie Brennan, a lecturer at Waikato University, teaches New Zealand's first class in space law.

DOMINICO ZAPATA / STUFF

Anna Marie Brennan, a lecturer at Waikato University, teaches New Zealand's first class in space law.

"The students originally thought they would be studying aliens and Darth Vader and Star Wars topics, and we are touching on these specific topics because we are looking at space military applications and satellite armament and so on."

Brennan plans to set up a postgraduate degree in Space Law for a year, making Waikato University the only other university in the world to offer this qualification, the other being in the Netherlands.

The paper aims to respond to New Zealand's burgeoning space industry and help them better inform government and private companies about space activities, she said.

"Space law as an area is developing rapidly and Waikato [University] sees this as a potentially growing area and the industry needs lawyers who can practice in this area. "

New Zealand has been slow to recognize the need for this type of study, but has largely come to terms with the growth of companies such as the US company Rocket Lab.

The arming of satellites is a topic addressed in a new summer school newspaper on space law offered by Waikato University.

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The arming of satellites is a topic addressed in a new summer school newspaper on space law offered by Waikato University.

"They expect New Zealand to launch more rockets into space in the future than the United States, and this is a very important opportunity for New Zealand to develop a technologically advanced, smart space industry that would weigh on the economy."

Due to its geographical location, New Zealand was ideal for rocket launches and as a potential venue for space tourism, she said.

The head of the Rocket Lab, New Zealander Peter Beck, said the global space economy was growing fast and evolving.

"New Zealand can play an important role in this growth, and it's great to see young kiwis see more opportunities to enter the space economy."

The focus of the company was on improving the access of smaller satellites to space. A key element is the speed with which satellites and launch providers could obtain the necessary permits and licenses, he said.

"With the small launch industry growing and thousands more in orbit, we're likely to see a natural evolution of this process for a fast and frequent launch."

The next Rocket Lab launch window will be at 16:00 on Sunday.

One MBIE spokesman said New Zealand's emerging space industry meant it was important that its legal obligations were understood.

"It's great to see the interest of universities and other educational institutions in making space law accessible to New Zealanders."

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