Send PM’s baby into final frontier: Shatner
AUCKLAND: Star Trek actor William Shatner opened Rocket Lab’s new factory in the Auckland suburb of Mount Wellington yesterday.
His speech, however, took a strange turn when he suggested putting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s baby up into space.
‘‘Elon Musk, so he puts a rocket up, and he puts a car up, the Prime Minister has a baby, so why don’t we put the baby up, but think how much better New Zealand’s space programme would be, instead of a car, how about a baby?’’
Ms Ardern was not so keen on the idea.
‘‘I don’t think we’ll be following up on that particular payload suggestion,’’ she said.
The 87yearold, who played the captain of the USS Enterprise James T. Kirk in the science fiction franchise, officially opened the facility with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and US ambassador Scott Brown were also at the launch.
The factory is a huge space — 7500sq m or four times the size of Rocket Lab’s old assembly plant next to Auckland Airport.
PR being an important part of the space industry, the cramped area for a handful of guests at Rocket Lab’s old Mangere office has been replaced by a roomy area where 150 guests can watch a launch — of which there will be many, if all goes to plan.
The new building includes a new Mission Control Centre, which will oversee launches from Rocket Lab’s Mahia Peninsula launchpad, plus its pending new facility in the United States.
Founder and chief executive Peter Beck says 16 flights are planned for next year.
By 2020, he wants a launch a week — hence the ramp up in production capacity.
Mr Beck gave a special thanks to the Rocket Lab team for their innovation and hard work.
‘‘Generally it’s countries that go to space, not companies,’’ he said.
Taking to the stage, Ms Ardern said it was an honour to be among such a prestigious group of guests.
‘‘I never thought in my life I would acknowledge William Shatner at the beginning of a speech,’’ she said.
Ms Ardern said if people were told 15 years ago that this would be the industry New Zealand would be playing a role in, most would have been surprised. — NZME
Actor William Shatner (right) helped open Rocket Lab’s new factory in the Auckland suburb of Mount Wellington yesterday. The new building includes a new Mission Control Centre, which will oversee launches from Rocket Lab’s Mahia Peninsula launchpad and chief executive Peter Beck (left) said 16 flights were planned for next year.