KiwiSpace joins Kibo-ABC

Flying high above the Earth right now is a wonderful laboratory - the International Space Station. It's made up of many different modules, including the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo" (Hope).

KiwiSpace Foundation has just become a member of the Kibo-ABC initiative – a JAXA-led initiative to promote awareness of microgravity research, encourage collaboration between the Asia-Pacific partners; and provide access to the Japanese module “Kibo” on the International Space Station (ISS).

Image: Key components of the Japanese Kibo module.

The Kibo-ABC (Asian Beneficial Collaboration through "Kibo" Utilisation initiative was formed by the Space Environment Utilisation Working Group of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF). Its members currently consist of organisations from the following countries: Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand, and Vietnam - with more expected to join following promotion of the initiative at APRSAF-19 last year.

There are some cool initiatives which KiwiSpace will be promoting within NZ:

Space Seeds for Asian Future: We'll post more on this shortly, but some Azuki Bean seeds will be sent to the International Space Station and grown under microgravity. We will have seeds available for New Zealand schools from the same batch – and students will be able to perform control experiments to compare the differences between the seeds growth. 

Try Zero-G: An opportunity for students to suggest simple experiments to be performed by a Japanese astronaut aboard the ISS, demonstrating the effects of microgravity.  Several Australian students have had their experiments performed on station in the past two editions of the program. 


Details: 6.00-7.30pm, Thursday 31 May, Mediterranean Food Warehouse, 337 High St, Lower Hutt.

Speakers Haritina Mogosanu and Elf Eldridge are both science communicators from the Carter Observatory and members of Kiwispace. Recently, mission commander Haritina Mogosanu organised and ran the first 'Kiwimars' expedition, where four kiwis travelled to a Mars analogue environment, maintained by NASA in the deserts of Utah. For two weeks, they simulated life on the orange desert planet that currently hangs low in our northern skies.

Elf and Hari will discuss the purpose of the mission, what life is like 'on Mars', what it achieved, and ask the audience to discuss whether they believe this mission was worthwhile and what that implies for the future of New Zealand's role in an international space programme.

Please note that the Mediterranean Food Warehouse in Lower Hutt is the new venue.

Help us design a new logo!

We recently changed our name to KiwiSpace Foundation, and are in need of a logo. The interim one you see at the top of the page was just a placeholder.

We know there are heaps of creative people out there, who are passionate about space – and would love to hear and see your ideas for what our logo can be. It doesn't need to be perfect - a basic sketch is fine. The logo ideas will be reviewed by committee, and then sent to a graphic designer to craft the final design.

Email us your logo ideas by Monday 21 March

Submitting your logos

Simple email the logo – scan it, or simply take a picture of a napkin with your camera phone – to:

Logo Tips & Guidelines

Please consider the following points when coming up with logo ideas. You don't have to fit all of the criteria, but the more suitable the logo is for multiple situations the better.

  • KiwiSpace: The name "KiwiSpace Foundation" was chosen, amongst other reasons because we want to be able to use "KiwiSpace" in a more standalone context, with the general public. So maybe the logo doesn't have the word 'Foundation' on it? or maybe there are two variants, etc.
  • Colours: How will it look in black and white and single spot colours and full colour.
  • Different background: What would it look like on a dark background, or coloured background. Would it be in a a box? Transparent in the middle, etc?
  • Different sizes: Think about how the logo would look at different sizes. e.g. the front of an A4 brochure versus a small logo in the credits inside. Will it scale well? or will you not be able to see the detail when it's too small. If blown up to a billboard size, will it still look alright? You could consider having two logos – a simplified one for smaller sizes, which removes some detail that would otherwise be lost. With social media, etc – the most common way people will 'see' the KiwiSpace logo will probably be Facebook or Twitter posts – so the logo (maybe without text) on its own should look good at thumbnail size.
  • Vector image preferred: Logos that can be stored as paths/lines are preferred to 'raster art' (pixels – e.g. photos), as they scale better and have smaller file sizes. (Don't worry if you don't can't produce a vector file, but if you logo could be redrawn using paths that'd be great – e.g. avoid photos). is an example of a logo that can be drawn as a vector graphic.
  • What Fonts: Legibility should be of primary concern, but there are heaps of different typefaces out there. A cross-platform typeface is preferred, and certainly one we have rights to use.
  • Taglines: We haven't mapped out an official tagline for the organisation yet, but feel free to create some ideas. The logo should work without the tagline though.
  • Different Media: Please bear in mind that his logo might be used in various ways:
    • Letterhead
    • Business cards
    • Website banner, social media, etc
    • T-shirts
    • Car sign-writing
    • etc

If you've got any questions, please drop us an email and i'll do my best to answer them.

MDRS T- 9 days

On my way to Mars

The final count down has started with the New Year. I am very excited to participate in the RoMars 2011, the first Romanian expedition to the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, USA and it's all I can think of all day long. The expedition is sponsored by the Romanian Space Agency and consists in two weeks of intensive research under simulation conditions. We will be opening the 2011 season, followed by the ESA (European Space Agency), NASA and NASA Academy crews and several others. Which feels good with Romania being newly accepted full member of ESA starting from this year, 2011. I still have the post card with the original signature of Dumitru Prunariu, our first astronaut who flew into space in 1981. Now it's my time to dream about going there.

Whilst making the last preparations, learning about the Musk Observatory and applying the final touches to the resumes of my research proposals that will go to the press conference in Romania, I'm also trying to compute what to pack

What would I pack if I were to go to Mars for real? It takes about 9 months in average to reach it and the one thing I can't get off my mind is cake. How can you survive without it for 9 + 9 + whatever the waiting time in months for the next launch window would be? Argh, all these compromises that we have to make in the name of science!

I always wanted to do something, always wanted to be able to ask myself: If I were to go to space (on Mars), what would I take with me from Earth? Now it almost makes sense to do this. Well, drum roll ...  I'd take the "Songs of Distant Earth" and Oceanic so that at least I can listen to the songs of the seas as it seems that water will be scarce. We are being told that the simulation is so real, it deals with the lack of water too. After all, we are going in the middle of the desert.

How about you?

What would they be, the ten things you would take with you on Mars? And since I would also love to see Kiwi Mars next year we'd better start thinking in advance. So please e-mail me your replies and I will add them to the list (I'll make one). :) And whilst I will be waiting for them, I will also think of a prize for the best letter and how to vote for it. And remember, it's ten things YOU cannot part with if you have to go to Mars :).

And if "Clear skies" is what you say for astronomers, what would that translate into for terraformers? Terra-what?


On Friday it will be a hundred years since one of New Zealand's famous sons was born on 24 December 1910.

"Dr. Pickering was one of the titans of our nation's space program," said JPL Director Dr. Charles Elachi. "It was his leadership that took America into space and opened up the moon and planets to the world."

By now, those of us who are subscribed to the Royal Society's News and Alerts section will have received the following beautiful letter written by George Jones:

I met Dr Sir William Pickering in 2002, when he came to Wellington to re-open the refurbished Gifford Observatory in Wellington College. I asked him about his school days at Wellington College, and he talked about being a pupil of my grand-uncle Charlie Gifford - Uncle Charlie to him, and exactly that to me. He told me that if a science or maths lecture was getting a bit boring, then a student question about astronomy would divert Uncle Charlie to his favourite subject, enlivening the lecture.

Bill later had an illustrious career in organising spaceflight as Director of Jet Propulsion Laboratories in California, starting with Explorer 1 in 1958, sent up within four months of the Russian Sputnik. He told me that deadlines were crucial, that there never could be any slippage of delivery, forced by the lineup of the planets for a space launch.

For the last two decades of his life till he died in 2004 at age 93 he had a second career running his company Lignetics that pioneered making pellet fuel from waste sawdust."

William H. Pickering, (center) director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, presents a model of the Mariner spacecraft to President John F. Kennedy in 1961. NASA Administrator James Webb is standing directly behind the model.

William Pickering ONZ KBE was born in Wellington, New Zealand and he attended Havelock School, Marlborough, and Wellington College. After spending one year at Canterbury University College he completed his bachelor's degree at the California Institute of Technology and completed a PhD in physics in 1936. His specialty was in electrical engineering and he concentrated on what is now known as telemetry. He is responsible for putting the first american satellite into orbit.

He headed Pasadena, California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for 22 years, retiring in 1976 when the Voyager Missions were about to launch in their exploration beyond our Solar System. Viking 1 was at the time on its way to land on Mars. He was a senior NASA luminary and pioneered the exploration of space.

_"More than any other individual, Bill Pickering was responsible for America's success in exploring the planets an endeavour that demanded vision, courage, dedication, expertise and the ability to inspire two generations of scientists and engineers"._Thomas Everhart - President of Caltech University


You could find more about Sir William Pickering by going to these links:

Kiwi 2 Space Update

Kiwi 2 Space is participating in the international N-Prize competition: a nearly impossible global competition to launch a tiny satellite for under £999 (~$2,300 NZD). Three teams from New Zealand (making up around 12.5% of the total worldwide entrants to date) are taking on this challenge.


For those that do not know me, I’m Iain Finer and am the team lead of Kiwi 2 Space and am also involved with the NZ Space Foundation as a staff/member. What you are about to read will be a series of short blogs/posts as I try to achieve the impossible and put a satellite into orbit as part of the N-Prize competition, by building rockets and rocket engines!

Will I succeed? I’m not sure, but I sure as hell hope to put NZ on the space map no matter the outcome!

Pre-testing thoughts

So this weekend its engine testing time, again....

Why again? Back in the End of June we tried firing a small liquid fuelled rocket engine, but only got a pad full of propellant due to ignition issues,

(we were trying pyrotechnic) . So back to the drawing board to resurrect the old torch igniter I made late last year, after a lot of researching, a new torch igniter was made and it’s only been this week that I’ve been able to get it to a testing stage (another story!). Making an igniter and getting it to work once is relatively easy I’ve found, but getting it working reliably and every time is a different thing! Tonight in the shed validated that, a whole lot of bang but no buck, I know the problem and I’ll get it sorted tomorrow night. My old torch igniter worked so there’s no reason for this new improved one not to!.

The list for the weekend continues to grow

  • Get O-rings
  • Get Nitrogen bottle
  • Finish igniter
  • Calibrate load cell
  • Re-assemble engine
  • Fix Ox valve
  • Clean igniter solenoids
  • Test new firing system box
    The list goes on....

If this was easy I guess more people would be doing it!!
Until after the weekend...


I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a 'Launch Day' of the NZ Rocketry Association. It was held at their Taupiri launch site (near Huntly) on Sunday 9 May, and was an opportunity for me to meet some of the NZRA executive, and see first-hand what they were up to.

They hold their main 'National Rocket Day', a promoted public event in February each year, and so this event was more for members to try out new rockets and generally have fun. For a first time attendee, I didn't know what to expect - and was quite enthralled the day's action. It was attended by around 50 people, with around 30 rockets launching.

>> Check out the Photo Gallery

I'm looking forward to their February launch day - and we'll provide more information about it on the KiwiSpace website as the time draws closer.

The Orion Rocket Team was also hoping to launch last weekend of an low-altitude 3-stage rocket they are developing as a technology evaluator; but unfortunately had some issues with electronics so are planning a launch in a month or so. We'll keep you posted here too!

Mark Mackay
Founding Committee Member