Milky-Way.kiwi is launching a campaign to put a kiwi in space called “Kiwinauts to Space”. New Zealand has a long history of contributing to science and space from the huge impact that Ernest Rutherford made through to the many kiwis involved in space related research today. This country has also had a long association with astronomy from Maori, who navigated to New Zealand by the stars, through to the transit of Venus that was a motivation for early European interest in this part of the world to the large number of observatories and strong astronomy clubs throughout the country. 38 countries have had their citizens in space so surely it’s time New Zealand sorted itself out and got a kiwi into space.
Why put a kiwi in space?
There’s many reasons why we would want to have a kiwi into space and here’s the best two. First it’ll inspire a whole generation of kids to get into science, engineering and maths. The Rocket Lab launch from Mahia Peninsula inspired a lot of discussion and interest about space across the whole country, imagine what it would be like if a kiwinaut was off to the International Space Station (ISS). Thousands of kids would be inspired and would see that it was possible for a New Zealander to be an astronaut – a kiwinaut.
The second reason is that it puts New Zealand into that unique club of nations who have had one of their citizens go to space. This would drive business opportunities for industries related to space, open up access to space initiatives of other nations and drive investment in space related activities including satellite development etc.
How would a kiwinaut get into space?
This would be one of the tricky bits as those nations that have had people in space have either supported investment in the ISS or travelled during the Cold War. To convince the likes of NASA or ESA to support a kiwinaut would require quite a campaign to show them the benefit of helping us kick start a human spaceflight programme. It’s more likely that we would need to find an opportunity to join the collectively funded space programmes or through sponsorship of one of the ESA nations. We think the way to start it is get people interested in space and show them why – to put a kiwi into space, we’ll figure the how as we go.
What can you do?
We want to create the most space literate nation on Earth. This means that every kiwi understands and knows their way around the night sky, knows the science of space and can articulate processes around the enormity and amazingness of space. You can help by learning the night sky and then telling other people about it, by reading about the planets and understanding the physics of space. You can inspire your children to put their smart devices down or use them to look up and learn about space. Let’s make New Zealand a space nation!