Tracking Space Travel from NZ
AUT University’s Institute of Radio Astronomy and Space Research (IRASR) was contracted in May to track the re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere of the world’s first privately-owned space craft to the International Space Station (ISS). The Contractors, California-based Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), launched its 55m-tall Falcon 9 rocket, topped with the gumdrop-shaped Dragon space craft, from Cape Canaveral on 22 May. Professor Stuart Weston was one of the New Zealanders to track the rocket from AUT’s radio astronomy observatory. He said it was a childhood dream coming true. “I’m just over 50, I grew up during the Apollo era, I was a little kid watching the Apollo and then I thought wouldn’t it be great to be involved in the space industry,” Weston said. The AUT team has a contract to track the next 11 missions to space by SpaceX, averaging about four a year.