The Youth Council talk Space with NASA & the NZ Space Agency

Guest blog post by U.S. Embassy Youth Councilor, Darren Young.

Ngā mihi o Matariki ki a tātou. Matariki greetings to one and all!

Auckland Youth Councillors recently had the privilege of engaging in talks on space diplomacy and policy. Our first guest from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the U.S. was Mike N. Gold. And our second guest from the New Zealand Space Agency was Jonathan Mitchell. Together, they were able to cover space-related issues from international and national perspectives.

Mike N. Gold is the Acting Associate Administrator for International and Interagency Relations at NASA. He has invested much of his professional career both in and around space-related areas. Jonathan Mitchell is a policy advisor on the Space Policy Team of the New Zealand Space Agency. While his role may vary from day to day, his unique role allows him to further the capacity of the space industry in Aotearoa.

During question time with Mike and Jonathan, the Youth Councillors launched into questions which could be divided into three categories. These were around the need for international cooperation in space, space-related activities that are currently on-going in New Zealand, and how young people could get involved in space from here, especially for those outside STEM-related fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

For Youth Councillor Tom, “Mike Gold’s presentation was a fantastic experience, particularly as he recognised (and informed us) of the need for humanities scholars in global space programs.” Gold’s presentation also included a short clip about the Artemis program which for Tom was a real treat, “one that makes me very excited for the future of space travel!”

For Youth Councillor Maeono, she found the discussions to be educational. “Personally, I did not know much about the work of space agencies such as NASA…” so for her it was an opportunity to learn from experts in the field. Hearing about New Zealand’s involvement in the space industry amazed her too, especially with the likes of Rocket Lab. Like Tom, hearing about the need for those outside of STEM backgrounds to complement their work was “a real eye opener.”

Youth Councillor Solmaz recalls Mike talking about “the evidence that diversity allows for betterment in the field [space industry].” I think we can all agree that it is an exciting time for space exploration and industry in New Zealand and the international community.

–  Darren Young

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