StartupWeekend Space is attracting a wide variety of brilliant minds from all walks of life. Dustin Helmke, a 9th grade student from Bremen has registered as a participant in the three-day long intensive space industry event. Intrigued, we asked Dustin how he was motivated to participate, and what his visions are, as a teenager, for the future of space.
How did your passion for space begin?
I learnt it through my parents. They are involved in the space industry and often take me with them to courses and expos. I am really interested in being involved when I can! This will be the first time that I will go alone.
What is your vision of the future of space?
Concerning the future of space, I am sure that we will leave Earth and explore the rest of the solar system. Within my lifetime I think we will see people walking on Mars. This is something really exciting when I think about it.
If you break your vision down, what do you want to achieve as first step?
The first main problem is the duration of the flight to another planet. It takes 2-4 years to just reach Mars and I think that is too long. A few humans in a very small “bucket” would be stuck there for too long. This is a very big problem which needs to be solved.
What do you hope to learn and experience at StartupWeekend Space?
I think the event is a really great idea. So many different people will meet with their different ideas and different specializations! I think there could be great results because people with ideas can share them with engineers, who can develop something that could really help, and other people could directly finance it! We could solve so many problems this way.
The only thing I am a bit worried about is when we are in teams trying to find solutions to bring ideas to life. I do not know what I could do even if I supplied the initial idea. I will try to learn as much as I can and not just say yay, I am here, I had an idea and that’s it.
What is your future plan? What role do you see yourself taking?
I need to first finish school and then begin studying. After I have done these things, I am pretty sure I am going to help find new ways to solve human problems in space. If I could help, I would be happy to be involved in a large, international space exploration project during my lifetime, and contribute as a scientist, maybe as a nuclear physicist. I would like to work in a laboratory researching and solving problems.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
StartupWeekend Space is supported by the City of Bremen, the European Space Agency, Airbus Defence and Space, HE-Space, Design & Data, Space Angels Network as well as Up Global, a non-profit organization connecting a global community of entrepreneurs across all topics. The organization is headquartered in Seattle, US and is considered a hub for entrepreneurial space.