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Kiwi NASA engineer shooting for the stars to be first Maori in space

Houston is home to NASA's Johnson Space Center, where some of the world's brightest minds are trying to send man to Mars.

Seven Sharp got special permission from the US government to visit Mana Vautier for a look inside NASA. Source: Seven Sharp

Among them is Rotorua-born Kiwi Mana Vautier.

"I walked in through this door here, and I looked up and saw this [a relic from the Apollo mission era].

"It just blew me away, it was awe inspiring."

Mr Vautier holds aspirations to be the first Maori in space.

"That would certainly be the icing on the cake."

"I think I've always looked up at the night sky and loved what I've seen."

Mr Vautier moved to the US to study, and become an aerospace engineer.

"My whole life I wanted to be involved in human space flight."

This week he helped Massey University launch a science academy for young Maori.

Also this week NASA opened up applications for another intake of astronauts.

The chances are slim, less than one per cent, but the father of five says he will continue to shoot for the stars.