Rocket Lab chief inspires pupils

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INDUSTRIAL espionage, Elon Musk and flat Earth theorists were some of the topics Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck covered during a visit to his former Invercargill high school last week.

It’s where it all started for Mr Beck. James Hargest College provided him with the resources to fuel his passion for engineering.

An inspiration for some, one particular 10-year-old got to meet and have a photo with the man he looked up to.

Waihopai School pupil Noah Hackett had worked on a project during the past month, with the theme “inspiring leaders”.

Having chosen Mr Beck, he said it was exciting to meet him, and his favourite fact about him was he had not gone to university.

Pupils came from around Southland to see him return to his old stomping ground.

“It’s funny standing here because I remembered this floor when I walked in. I probably wasn’t a very academic child, but I did count every single one of these square pieces of wood in the floor,” Mr Beck said.

While possibly unconventional, Mr Beck urged pupils, “don’t get a real job – just make sure you have a mission in life”.

While the missions in Mr Beck’s life may be more literal, since Rocket Lab was founded in 2007 it had launched 40 satellites and he said it was one of two private companies to put spacecraft into orbit.

His talk focused on entrepreneurship, not just in the space industry, as well as answering questions related to his work.

He said he was impressed with the calibre of questions asked, which included his thoughts on flat Earth theorists and aliens, how they worked around space traffic, the biggest security threats they faced, sustainability in the industry and the kind of jobs available.

Great South’s ground station facilities in Awarua, Lochiel and Invercargill helped support international space agencies – this was one of the reasons Mr Beck spoke as part of Great South’s Southland Youth Futures programme.

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