Australian-funded astronauts to inspire children to STEM

See also: UWA Astrophysicist says space funding will inspire a generation of kids at PerthNow. 

The Australian Space Agency has unveiled a new $65 million funding plan today with the aim of sending an Australian astronaut into space and promoting new Australian launch sites.

So far just three Australian-born astronauts have ever made it into space. This will be the first time in 17 years that an Australian has been to space, since Andy Thomas rode the Discovery space shuttle to the ISS in 2005.

Head of the International Space Centre Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow Danail Obreschkow supports this approach.

“I am thrilled by the vision to launch more Australian astronauts. We all identify ourselves with other humans, not with machines. And our children look up to astronauts, rather than satellites. Australians in space have the superpower to inspire millions of children and motivate them to pursue their dreams in STEM fields to the benefit of all of us,” said Obreschkow in response to the annoucement this morning.

The journey in sending an Australian into space means serious investment in local jobs, local technologies and local businesses. WA has significant  space capabilities including optical communications, plants in space, remote operations, robots, and automation – all of which are the  forefront of the ISC’s capabilities.

Under the plan, the government will co-invest more than $32 million into the development of up to three new spaceports or launch sites across Australia.

“Any astronaut and any spacecraft has a team of thousands behind them, not to mention invaluable technology and research and carefully manufactured parts,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison this morning.

A further $32 million will be spent to help the ASA procure and provide spaceflights and services for the Australian space sector – enabling a  flight qualification which takes Australia beyond the lab environment and into the proven environment of space.