Wannabe astronauts, satellite developers and space scientists are being encouraged to take up the opportunity to do an internship at America's National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Under an agreement announced today between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and NASA, the international internships are now available to high-achieving New Zealand science students.
The internship launch took place at Wellington's Carter Observatory and several leading scientists and space innovators were there, including Peter Beck from Rocket Lab.
Successful internship applicants will also receive $25,000 scholarships from the New Zealand Space Agency to cover their airfares and expenses.
Minister of Economic Development David Parker said the opportunity for young New Zealanders to take up NASA internships built on earlier scientific successes by the country.
He pointed to Sir William Pickering, who was born in Wellington and studied at Canterbury University.
"[He] went on to be director of NASA's jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena for 23 years and was one of the people who led the successful effort to place the first US satellite, Explorer One, into the Earth's orbit, and many other successes which led the Americans to be leaders in the space race."
Mr Parker said it was great the US was cooperative and that they recognised New Zealand's innovation in satellite technology, which would have benefits for the whole world.
"For example, making mobile communications more accessible to people in geographically spread areas where it's expensive to roll out fibre ... and enabling us to improve land use and water quality over the years," Mr Parker said.
"New Zealand is well-positioned to become a hub for new space activities with its highly-skilled workforce and expertise in physics, energy, engineering and computer science research."
United States Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown said it made sense to extend the internship programme to New Zealanders.
"They have the innovative and independent spirit of entrepreneurs, stepping outside their comfort zone, looking outside the box and trying to do things better," Mr Brown said.
"Who'd have thought you'd have bikes in a sailboat? That's a great example right there with the America's Cup."
The completion of a NASA internship would also be a great addition to young New Zealanders' CVs, he said.
Delwyn Moller, the research director of the Centre for Space Science Technology in Otago, was also at today's launch of the NASA internships.
She also once worked for NASA's jet propulsion lab and was thrilled about the new venture.
"It's such a neat important step that really gives a pathway for students, rather than the random walk I did that happened to get me [there]," Dr Moller said.
"Now there's an actual pathway and a way through that's tangible and they can follow a process."
Several promising young New Zealand science students were also at the Carter Observatory today.
Matthew Furkert, who helps run the undergraduate Rocket Club at Canterbury University, is already involved in sending rockets into the atmosphere and will be applying for a NASA scholarship to further his career in space science.
"It's a really exciting opportunity to go overseas and gain expertise from NASA people and come back and grow the space sector here in New Zealand," he said.
"I just want to keep making bigger rockets and hitting higher altitude and head to space one day."
Another UC student at the launch, Jack Davies also wished to apply for a NASA internship.
He said hopefully by the end of their degrees something he and Mr Furkert had made would have reached the edge of space and he wanted to continue getting better at that.
"I want to be designing rockets ... to be the best they could be so this opportunity at NASA is amazing for that. They're experts they've been doing it for so long and it would be great to see what they've been up to."
Applications for the NASA scholarships will be open next month and it is hoped the first students will be there in June next year.