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Another Australian woman shoots for the stars as an astronaut

Bennell-Pegg will begin training in April through mid-2024. She will remain employed by the ASA, where she has worked since 2019, but is seconded to the ESA. She holds dual British citizenship and applied privately in 2021 to join the European Astronaut Corp, one of 25 people selected from 22,500 applicants.

Bennell-Pegg of Adelaide said the opportunity was the realization of a childhood dream.

“When I was young it was for the adventure, but after working in space for more than a decade now it’s because I know the role it plays in tackling real problems and developing new knowledge that our society , the environment and science.” she said.

“It has been a privilege to have played a part in shaping our growing aerospace sector in Australia over the past few years and I now look forward to contributing even more through this historic opportunity.

“I want to use this experience to open doors for Australian scientists and engineers to use space for their discoveries, to inspire STEM careers and to show all Australians that they too can reach for the stars.”

The space systems engineer has studied and worked in six countries on human spaceflight missions and technologies, the International Space Station, debris removal concepts, science, Earth observation and space exploration missions. Her training is a requirement for missions to the International Space Station.

The secondment will further strengthen Australia’s relationship with Europe, including with regard to space science.

Australian space agency boss Enrico Palermo praised Bennell-Pegg’s performance being selected.

“This opportunity will provide a rare insight into human spaceflight and improve access for Australian scientists and engineers to space programs to expand existing knowledge and capabilities in our country,” he said.

“Katherine’s secondment also reinforces our proud history of cooperating with Europe in space, which stretches back nearly 45 years.”

She’s not the only local shooting for the start. Space professor at Swinburne University Kim Ellis hopes to be part of a suborbital parabolic missionmore than 80 kilometers above the earth.

Ellis was chosen to train as a PoSSUM (Polar suborbital science in the upper mesosphere) scientist-astronaut in 2020. The non-profit US research and education program is run by the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS), and her education was delayed by the global Covid pandemic. She was selected as a Global Ambassador for 2021 Postum 13 – a team of female scientist-astronaut candidates.

Oceanographer Paul Scully-Power was the first Australian-born person to fly into space in 1984 aboard the Challenger shuttle. Following in his footsteps was Adelaide-born Andy Thomas, who was part of four NASA space missions, including 141 days aboard Russian Spaceflight. station, Mir.

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