Royal Australian* Air Force mentors met the next generation of leaders in the space sector at the YMCA ‘Space Squad’ at the Bush Capital Lodge in Canberra from January 17 to 21.
CAPTION: Sergeant Amy Hestermann-Crane, left, Phoebe Budd, Chaplain Nikki Coleman and Squadron Leader Mel Vreugdenburg at the Bush Capital Lodge in Canberra for the YMCA Space Squad camp. Story by Flight Lieutenant Jessica Winnall. Photos by Leading Aircraftman Adam Abela.
They inspired and engaged young people with an interest in space, encouraging them to seek answers to the big questions they have, and about Royal Australian Air Force careers in space.
Space Squad is an immersive, residential holiday program for young people who love space.
It builds a community of people who share a passion for all things space and STEM, physics and aerospace.
Students from across Australia participated in hands-on experiences, learnt practical skills, worked as teams and formed new friendships.
Squadron Leader Mel Vreugdenburg, Staff Officer Space Control, was one of the RAAF mentors to Space Squad.
“It is so inspiring to meet these young people – their passion for space is contagious,” Squadron Leader Vreugdenburg said.
“They really are the next generation of leaders we need.”
Sixteen-year-old Phoebe Budd, a Space Squad participant, echoed the sentiment.
“Space Squad gives us an opportunity to see the real-life applications of STEM – it’s not just calculating a precise angle, it’s using that angle to plan the trajectory of a rocket,” Miss Budd said.
“The personal stories from the Royal Australian Air Force personnel about the range of careers available in space were really valuable – I had no idea that space analysts existed.”
Space is critical to defence operations and capabilities, and the Royal Australian Air Force has committed $7 billion over the next decade to transition from consumer to sovereign contributor in space.
The Royal Australian Air Force supports Space Squad camps, fosters an understanding of space exploration and science, and introduces young people to Royal Australian Air Force engineers, ethicists, astronomers and astrophysicists.
Twenty 15- to 19-year-olds from across Australia participated in a COVID-safe Space Squad camp in Canberra in January 2022.
About 75 per cent of participants were female.
* The above report contained zero references to “Royal Australian” or RAAF – an ‘error’ corrected by CONTACT. See this story for why.