Adelaide astronaut says education is key to developing a national space agency

By Kelly Hughes

It is a “no brainer” that Australia should invest in a national space agency, given the tremendous benefit it will garner, said Dr. Andrew Thomas.

Global leaders of the space sector are gathering in Adelaide this week for the 68th International Astronautical Congress, to discuss Australia’s lagging contribution to a multi-billion dollar space industry.

At the South Australian Press Club luncheon yesterday, Dr. Thomas said science remains the bedrock for teaching rational and evidence based thinking, emphasising how important investing in education is.

“Thousands of climate specialists out there have claimed climate change is not a problem, it’s false science, or even worse, at some stage it might be a hoax. I think it’s intellectually dishonest at best,” he said.

“It clearly demonstrates the need to bring some respect for evidence based thinking in society, but that will require a generational change.

“That change can only begin with an education system that really values science and the human condition.”

Dr. Thomas was selected by NASA in 1993 to be a member of the astronaut corps, making him qualified for missions as a specialist on space shuttle flights. In his career, he has accomplished four space flights and logged more than 177 days in space.

The Australian space sector generates $3 billion a year and employs nearly 12,000 people.

With a higher demand for navigation and communication in satellites, an Australian space agency could see more jobs, as well as the development of new satellite technology and capabilities.

Despite calls to develop a space agency here at home, a federal government review into the proposal won’t be until another six months.

The second Australian to have ventured into space, Dr. Andrew Thomas said it is imperative to invest in a future of science, education and space.

He hopes Australia will invest in the national space agency, and not cut science funding and space programs again like the government did in 2014.

“The teaching of science will go a long way toward that goal and bring some rationality to our social discourse,” he said.

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On The Record members Kelly Hughes, Emily Pemberton and George Booth with Dr Thomas

 

Image Source: The University of Adelaide

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