Great South has named Robin McNeill as the general manager of the firm’s Space Operations program.
Great South manages New Zealand’s only commercial LEO satellite ground station at Awarua, established by Mr McNeill in 2004, which is now in hot demand for the site’s antenna hosting services from many of the well-known, commercial, satellite companies. Also provided is launch support for international space operators, including Rocket Lab. The Space Operations team is also recruiting two more engineers and recently shifted to new premises.
Great South Chief Executive Graham Budd said this was an exciting time for the space operations program and he was delighted Robin had been appointed to this position. “It takes vision and tenacity to see a project of this magnitude develop so far,” he said.
Mr. McNeill is an engineer of standing both in New Zealand and internationally and, as a telecommunications specialist, has had involvement with satellite ground stations since 1991. Southland’s geographic location was ideal for satellite ground stations, as demand was greatest in locations closest to the North and South Poles, McNeill said, adding, “Our facilities at Awarua are recognized around the world. We will have at least six, new antenna installed before the end of this year and we are still fielding inquiries for more. A few years ago, five Southland Girls’ High School students who visited the site at Awarua were inspired to study engineering at Canterbury, and they all graduated in the same year.“
Great South has a close working relationship with the University of Canterbury, with two post-graduate students currently on its staff, and the company assists with the University’s rocket launches in Southland. In December, Great South also supported New Zealand’s first university satellite launch, the University of Auckland’s APSS-1.