Democratising Access to Space from New Zealand
EHF Fellow: Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom
he year that the original Star Wars came out, 11-year old Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom had taken to the habit of staring out her window in Quezon City, Manila at the night sky in wonder. It was also the year that she learned she could overcome mediocrity with hard work, passion and perseverance — in addition to a healthy dose of stubbornness and the refusal to recognise the presumed limits of her own abilities.
Her grades at school were beginning to show she didn’t have a natural talent for Maths. While many would have accepted that and moved onto different pursuits, Emeline was determined to enter the space industry, and knowing that Maths was a key required skill, she instead resolved to just push herself and work harder than everyone else.
That little girl in the Philippines dreamed about space exploration and a bright future beyond the confines of birthplace, limited opportunities, and ordinary abilities. The journey from there to the here and now in New Zealand has been one almost as exciting and daring as Star Wars. It has seen Emeline sitting in front of armoured tanks in defiance of tyranny and dictatorship in the Phillipines’ “People Power” revolution of 1986, earning a scholarship to the International Space University in France, and being personally recruited to build space startups and highly acclaimed innovative educational institutions by influential space pioneer and Singularity University (SU) co-founder Peter Diamandis.
Despite her academic limitations, Emeline earned a Master’s degree in Earth and Space Science, and has built a career centred around space. She was part of the team at Space Adventures that had sent the first private citizens to space, and has worked on the executive team as Chief Impact Officer at SU. Emeline is co-author of the book Realizing Tomorrow: The Path to Private Spaceflight which made it to the US Air Force Chief of Staff Reading List in 2013.
As a steward of SU’s focus on impact, Emeline has seeded and developed entrepreneurial programmes to launch game-changing technology projects that have changed industries and lives globally, spanning space, energy, water, hunger, health, and education. It was here that she learned that purpose and business can go hand-in-hand, and that today’s problems are tomorrow’s big business and impact opportunities.
Emeline co-founded International Space Consultants with her business partner and husband Eric Dahlstrom in 2007. Eric and Emeline, along with their team member Rich Bodo, join our inaugural cohort of Fellows in the Edmund Hillary Fellowship (EHF) and are recent recipients of New Zealand’s new Global Impact Visa. They are bringing to New Zealand a pre-launch startup company called SpaceBase, having already established roots and plugged into the momentum of the nascent space industry in New Zealand, through several recent visits.
Emeline’s passion and mission is to co-create a truly sustainable, democratised global space industry from New Zealand. Having lived half her life in a developing country instilled in her a strong sense of service and social responsibility, particularly centred around solving global problems such as poverty, and inequality. Recognising that access to space can be a game changer for real-time communications, food security, energy security, climate resilience and disaster response, Emeline is dedicated to making space affordable and accessible to small businesses and everyday people. Her ultimate long-term vision for SpaceBase is for every country to find a role or niche in a thriving space industry, with the goals of planetary sustainability, future off-planet settlement, and efficient resource utilisation.
New Zealand is an emerging leader in small-scale commercial access to space. Kiwi company Rocket Lab launched New Zealand’s first rocket in May, 2017 from one of the world’s first private orbital launch ranges on Mahia Peninsula. The Government has thrown their support behind growing the industry, recently opening the New Zealand Space Agency and the Centre for Space Science Technology, which maintains a national repository for satellite data. Legislation is being developed to regulate activities and promote peaceful uses of space and research & development grants are available to leading visionaries.
The country has some of the largest selection of launch angles for rocket launches in the world. Its remote location is also an advantage, providing clear skies and seas, and low levels of air traffic, creating opportunities for frequent launches.
Having just left Singularity University to move to New Zealand, Emeline views EHF as a pathway for her to help realise that organisation’s mission of creating an abundant future for all. To her cohort, she can contribute expertise in leveraging exponential technologies for global impact. She sees participation in EHF as an opportunity to accelerate her journey towards democratising access to space, through connections with her fellow cohort members and the New Zealand space industry, and through the support structure the EHF community provides.
If you enjoyed this story, please give us some claps. Just like real applause, you can clap more than once 😉 … Are you a visionary entrepreneur or investor building solutions to global challenges? You can bring your vision to reality from New Zealand by joining the Edmund Hillary Fellowship community. Apply here.