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Rocket Lab Offers 'Heartbroken' Students Tour After NASA Trip Abruptly Cancelled

Rocket Lab is stepping in to fill the vacuum that more than a dozen students find themselves in after their space camp dreams came crashing down.

It is offering the students a tour of its rocket factory and mission control in Auckland after a company organising to send the students to a US space camp collapsed.

Actura charged up to $13,000 for children from 25 New Zealand schools to attend a two-week CASE Space School Program at the NASA headquarters in Houston, Texas. But parents were left dumbfounded after an email saying the trip would not go ahead.

Rocket Lab has now offered to help.

It had about a dozen rockets being worked on at any given time at its Mount Wellington factory, spokesperson Morgan Connaughton told Morning Report.

There are also about 500 rocket scientists and engineers, and a big mission control.

"It's not quite Houston, but maybe it's even better because it's at home," Connaughton said.

Rocket Lab was talking to partners to help students from outside of Auckland get to the facility, she said.

"If we can, we'd like to get everyone up here.

"We would love to run our own space camps. The trouble is, we've got our hands full with just core business at the moment: launching rockets and building spacecraft."

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She had not heard of Actura, but said space camps were not a novel idea and many companies organised trips to Nasa.

Rocket Lab's offer comes as many others in the community are also reaching out to help the "heartbroken" students.

What went wrong

Mike Renata's daughter, an intermediate student, was all set to leave in three weeks.

"We started the payments last year in April, we had our last one in January," Renata told Morning Report.

"From January to now, they sent our flight itineraries, what the kids are going to be doing and we had a Zoom [call] with them at the end of May, and they hyped the kids up and we were all excited, And then just out of nowhere, we get that email."

"We got an email saying that they're going to liquidation."

The email came past midnight, but Renata was awake and as soon as he tried replied he said he "got a bounce back email saying, 'email shut down'".

He said the parents had "no idea" what was going on with Actura, and they felt "left out of the loop".

The company had done such camps with schools in Australia and New Zealand before, he said, so they thought it was "legit".

The students were "heartbroken", Renata said.

"A lot of the girls put a lot of time and effort into this. For our family, we had to do a lot of fundraising and a lot of events. So there's a lot of time spent, a lot of community involvement.

"She [my daughter] is absolutely gutted."

He said his daughter had always been fascinated by space and planets, so when the opportunity arose, he jumped on it.

But not before long "it all came crashing down", Renata said.

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