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NASA Astronaut Touches Down In Tauranga

Record breaking NASA astronaut and microbiologist Dr. Kate Rubins will be touching down in Aotearoa New Zealand for the first time and is taking part in a STEM in the Community initiative organised by Tauranga STEM Festival (STEMFest)/STEM Wana Trust. She will be touring the central North Island, visiting Palmerston North, Taupō, Rotorua, and culminating in a NIGHT UNDER THE STARS extravaganza on Tauranga’s Waterfront.

STEMFest Founder Tia Lush says: “We’re so excited to be able to host Dr. Rubins as she explores Aotearoa and to be able to introduce her to our STEM loving tamariki and rangatahi.

Our goal for this tour is to bring the opportunity of meeting a real-life NASA astronaut directly to the community, without the barriers of expensive tickets and taking this unique experience outside of the usual big city hubs. We hope that with these free engagements we see a variety of people of all ages and backgrounds who might never have thought they could meet an NASA astronaut, feel inspired to pursue their dream to go out of this world.

Tauranga is home to the award winning STEM Festival so what better way to end the tour with Dr. Rubins than to host an amazing free event for our STEM whānau and anyone who is interested in space exploration.”

A NIGHT UNDER THE STARS on Tuesday 10th January 2023 will also feature Aotearoa’s home-grown aerospace talent and showcase the different types of career opportunities in this growing sector. A panel will feature special guests:

  • Dr. Sarah Kessans - Biochemist and senior lecturer from University of Canterbury’s School of Product Design.
  • Kate Breach - Aerospace engineer and President of Women in Space Aotearoa NZ.
  • Emma Comrie-Thomson - Environmental management specialist and Team Lead for regulatory compliance and environmental innovation at Rocket Lab.
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Other activities for the event include rocket launching with Headline Sponsor Manawa Energy, star gazing and astronomical interaction with Tauranga Astronomical Society, and other family friendly activities for all ages.

Lush continues “The success of STEMFest has shown that we are a nation of curious thinkers and Space exploration is another field where Aotearoa New Zealand’s future workforce will look to excel on the global scene.”

All locations have reached full capacity within days of tickets being released, but there is a waitlist available. It’s free to attend any of the locations, but tickets are required. Visit for more details and to go on the waitlist for free tickets.

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