Her classmates want to be television stars or journalists, but Tawa student LauraJane Douch plans to be an astronaut.
She is one of three New Zealand students selected to attend the United States Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, in July.
The 16-year-old Queen Margaret College student attended her first Wellington Astronomical Society meeting when she was 8.
‘‘I found it really interesting because other people had such a passion for it,’’ she said.
Her ceiling is covered with glow-in-thedark stars that replicate the sky above it on a July night.
‘‘I like learning about the different constellations,’’ she said.
‘‘There’s so much out there that there’s always going to be something new to see each time.’’
Her family has a bach in Carterton, where she spends a lot of time stargazing with her father, Colin.
Science runs in Laura-Jane’s family. Her father is a geologist, her mother was formerly the head of science at Tawa College and her brother is studying engineering at Victoria University.
‘‘Everyone would be really supportive if I did become an astronaut,’’ she said.
‘‘They’d be upset if I went on the Mars One trip for the rest of my life, but I wouldn’t do that.’’
She said the space camp in Alabama was ‘‘sort of like astronaut training’’.
Students will spend a week teambuilding, learning about space missions and testing simulators to experience what it feels like to be in space.
‘‘I’m excited about experiencing zero gravity. That will be interesting.’’
Laura-Jane learnt that brushing her teeth and drinking water in space were difficult after watching YouTube videos of astronaut Chris Hadfield.
Outside astronomy, Laura-Jane enjoys playing netball, singing in the college barbershop quartet and debating.
She plans to complete a science or engineering degree at Victoria University once she has finished college.
‘‘I’m interested in physics and maths is my favourite subject,’’ she said.
Laura-Jane said she liked astronomy because it was an area of science that had not changed.
‘‘What we see is exactly the same as what the ancient Romans saw.’’
Space exploration was ‘‘ incredibly important’’ for the future of the human race, she said.
‘‘Doing geography, I know we’re going to overpopulate the Earth.
‘‘Some people think, ‘Why would we be putting money into space exploration when we should be putting it into finding more resources on Earth?’
‘‘I think the way to fix the problem is to find resources from other planets.’’
Starry eyes: Tawa student Laura-Jane Douch, 16, wants to be an astronaut.