A response to Wairarapa’s Time Age article on World Space Week

I felt compelled to write a reply to Wairarapa's Time Age article on World Space Week where they completely missed the point on what World Space Week is about and focused on misinformation and a selection bias, the result being diminishing the good work of thousands of volunteers around the world, who promote STEM education and run activities associated with WSW. This seems to have been done to sensationalise and play up to conspiracy theorists.
Picture of Haritina

October 8, 2023

This has been posted on the Wairarapa Times Age as a comment to the article written by MARLEE PARTRIDGE – https://times-age.co.nz/opinion/spacing-out/

Hello Marlee, it was nice to meet you last week at the World Space Week Business Connect event in Martinborough (sponsored by Star Safari of Milky-Way.Kiwi), which you seemed to have enjoyed.

I am actually the National Coordinator for World Space Week (WSW) New Zealand and the lead on the initiative to have World Space Week in Wairarapa. I am a little surprised you did not speak to me before writing this article.

You are trying to skew the readers’ perception and diminish the work of thousands of volunteers worldwide who support World Space Week of their own back and money (including the function you attended on Wednesday night). You are also deliberately misinforming the readers by presenting the wrong facts. For example, you said:

“The week is bookended by the dates of Sputnik 1’s launch on October 4, 1957, and the signing of a peace treaty covering space exploration on October 10, 1967 [the agreement’s full title is “Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies” – because the United Nations doesn’t do anything by halves].

For your information, the Space Treaty is not “a peace treaty”, but it provides the basic framework for international space law. Also, for your information, World Space Week is an international and United Nations -endorsed week in which people can learn about the benefits we get from space exploration.

World Space Week Association is the entity coordinating the link between the UN’s United Nations Committee for Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and the World Space Week events – similar to a secretarial function. The only expense the Association incurs is the part-time salary of the Executive Director and some posters printed yearly. How do I know? I am one of the thousands of WSW volunteers worldwide.

Trying to link defence contractors to some ulterior motifs of World Space Week plays up to conspiracy theories. It is a particularly poor analysis, especially in the line where you mention Area 51. Does that mean there was some nefarious ulterior motif to launching 45 water rockets at our event in Carrington Park on Saturday – NO is about encouraging our young people into STEM. The World Space Week Association did not pay us or anyone else for any events we organised this week. They are all volunteered.

Will you stop using your mobile phone from now on, given that the GPS you might rely on to drive to a certain location is owned by the US Airforce and was designed to put missiles on target?

You’ve missed the point of what World Space Week is about – it is about highlighting the myriad of benefits space research brings to the world. Also, IF you have checked World Space Week activities over the last years, you would have seen the large number of astronomy and space events held throughout the developing world, themed “Space and Sustainability, Women in Space, Satellites Improve Life, The Moon, Gateway to the Stars and so on).

It is disheartening to see a local newspaper fall into sensationalist journalism to play up to conspiracy theorists and miss the real story.

I understand that opinion pieces have a much lower editorial standard, and this is simply your opinion. I want to think a source has ill-informed you, and I hope next time you apply some analytical rigours, the readers of the Wairarapa Times Age (myself included as a subscriber) deserve better.

Haritina Mogosanu

National Country Coordinator World Space Week 

Director Milky-Way.Kiwi 

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