In January New Zealand joined the small list of countries with direct links to outer space. With these links come valuable jobs and roles for smart young Kiwis.
Rocket Lab, a US operation with facilities in Auckland and a launch base on the Mahia Peninsular, successfully reached orbit with its second test flight of its Electron orbital launch vehicle.
Just over 8 minutes after launch, the company deployed three commercial satellites for customers, living up to the company line that they are ‘opening space for business’.
The company is also opening up employment pathways for young Kiwis with a passion for engineering, technology and even space. Yes, we can actually now become rocket scientists.
Rocket Lab was founded with the goal of making space accessible to commercial business. Their commercial customers – who actually include US space agency NASA – are using satellites for communications, global positioning systems (GPS), weather tracking and even to optimise crop production. Of course, there are many military and spy satellites among the 4700 satellites in orbit around the world, and in fact less than 40% of all these satellites in orbit are actually still working, the rest being termed ‘space junk’.
Here’s another cool fat about Rocket Lab: they 3D print the engines that push the Electron rocket and its payload into space.
The Rocket Lab Scholarship
The first Kiwi school student to get a win from Rocket Lab is former Wairoa College student Arianna Ormond. Arianna was awarded the inaugural Rocket Lab Scholarship. This valuable scholarship – worth $20,000 over 4 years – aims to encourage students from the East Coast (around Mahia) to study science, technology, mathematics or engineering at university.
Pathways to become a rocket scientist
There are not many walk-up jobs going around rocket launching facilities. The people working in these have studied, trained for and dreamed of doing what they do.
And there are a huge range of jobs in the space field, including: pilot, mission specialist, payload specialist, astronomer, chemist, geologist, meteorologist, computer scientist, mathematician, systems analyst, and engineers specialising in avionics, electrical/electronics, fabrication, design, mechanical, nuclear, petroleum and safety systems. And there are tons of support roles opening too.
Study options you can consider: