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Partnering with Nasa was a crawl-walk-run experience, deputy administrator Pamela Melroy says.
New Zealand must decide how much it wants to collaborate with Nasa, the space agency’s deputy administrator says.
“This is a decision that has to be taken by New Zealand about whether [and] how they want to participate” in space activities, said former astronaut Pamela Melroy in Christchurch on Thursday.
Partnering with Nasa was a crawl-walk-run experience, she said. “For most of our partners, they start with understanding how to do things together [and] how space works.”
Melroy was part of a high level Nasa delegation that toured New Zealand this week, visiting Rocket Lab, iwi, Parliament, universities and entrepreneurs. In Canterbury, they had talks with Dr Ayesha Verrall in her role as minister for research, science and innovation, which Melroy characterised as “great”.
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Rocket Lab gets the Capstone mission off to a good start in June. (Last published October 2022.)
Nasa had mature relationships with the European Space Agency, Japan and Canada and new opportunities were already open with Nasa’s Artemis 1 programme, the “first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars”.
The first Artemis crew of four will be announced within weeks and will include a woman, a person of colour and a Canadian, Nasa administrator Bill Nelson told the University of Canterbury audience.
On Friday, they visited Ngāi Tahu’s planned aerospace research facilities on Kaitōrete Spit south of Christchurch. A year ago, it was announced Project Tāwhaki would not be a launch pad for rockets (too loud and disruptive) but would feature a runway suitable for unmanned aircraft and drones.
Christchurch entrepreneur Mark Rocket, president of industry body Aerospace Christchurch and MC of the university event, applauded the Government for signing the Artemis Accords, a non-binding international agreement that aligns the country with Nasa as opposed to China or Russia, for example, and welcomes private industry into space.
Rocket provided seed funding to Rocket Lab and is chief executive of Kea Aerospace, which developed solar-powered aircraft that took photos of Earth from altitude of about 14km.