Send PM’s baby into fi­nal fron­tier: Shat­ner

Otago Daily Times - - GENERAL - CHRIS KEALL

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

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

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.

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