Position: Entrepreneur, Field: Investing in New Zealand technology, Organisation: Avatar, NZS.com, former director of Rocket Lab.

Mark Rocket is an internet entrepreneur and space enthusiast. One of his ventures, New Zealand Tourism Online, was purchased by Telecom Yellow Pages mid-2006. Other enterprises include Avatar, a web design and marketing company, and the web directory NZS.com.

Mark was the first New Zealander to book a ticket into space with Virgin Galactic. This will be a suborbital space flight and an incredible experience, but he feels there is an even more important context to commercial space flights. He believes that investment in the space industry will continue to result in flow-on benefits for people.

When Mark started working in the internet industry back in 1994, few people would have predicted how far-reaching internet technology would become and how significantly it would affect modern culture. In a similar way, he believes that the space industry will continue to result in huge advances in energy systems, environmental systems, communication systems and new materials, so there are sure to continue to be major spin-offs that will affect many areas of our lives.

I feel that we are on the verge of an era where space tourism will open up a plethora of exciting new technologies, many we can't yet imagine.

As part of his investment in this international space venture, Mark has developed a wide network within the international space community, and he remains passionate about developing the commercial space industry.

A person Mark regards highly is Sir William Pickering, a New Zealander who made significant contributions to space exploration when he headed up NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Mark believes that New Zealand has the potential to continue making significant technological contributions to rocket and space technology.

Mark is a former company director of Rocket Lab – an Auckland-based company that has been operating since mid-2006 and is working on international aerospace contracts. Mark saw investment in Rocket Lab as a way to raise New Zealand’s space profile.

This article is based on information current in 2011.

    Published 30 November 2011