Nasa astronaut to promote space in Bluff

Nasa astronaut Dr. Shannon Walker will travel to Bluff in late October to open the Tuhura Tuarangi - Aotearoa in Space roadshow.

NASA/supplied

Nasa astronaut Dr. Shannon Walker will travel to Bluff in late October to open the Tuhura Tuarangi – Aotearoa in Space roadshow.

A Nasa astronaut is on his way to Bluff as part of a showcase celebrating New Zealand’s cutting-edge space technology and research.

Dr. Shannon Walker will travel to Bluff to launch the Tūhara Otago Museum Tūhara Taurangi–Aoteroa in spacea roadshow showcasing New Zealand’s involvement in space science and the career opportunities available.

Walker has participated in several NASA space missions, including serving as commander of a 167-day expedition to the International Space Station.

The Tūhara Otago Museum’s science engagement coordinator, Dr. Andrew Mills, said he was delighted that Walker was able to be part of the tour.

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“There’s nothing more inspiring than having an astronaut, who’s been there and done this, speak in person to your school or your community – it’s so awesome.”

Walker would attend a pōwhiri at Te Rau Aroha Marae before opening the showcase to locals, then visit the nearby Awarua Sattelite ground station with high school students and give a public lecture at James Hargest College, he said.

The showcase will include hands-on interactive activities including building rockets and launching satellites.

“I’m so excited, over the past month we’ve had a soft launch at the museum in Otago, and with the school holidays, a lot of people have come,” he said.

“The response has been phenomenal so I’m so excited to be able to bring this to Bluff and parts of New Zealand.”

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He had applied in the middle of last year for funding from the Ministry of Buniess, Innovation and Employment and the New Zealand Space Agency to develop the roadshow, he said, and was fortunate to receive funding.

After starting in Bluff, the showcase will tour schools, maraes and community centers across the country until the end of 2023.

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