Inspiration to reach for the stars

A career in space might seem like reaching for the stars – for Katherine Bennell-Pegg this is a reality.

CAPTIONAstronaut candidate Katherine Bennell-Pegg receives her Air Force uniform at the European Space Agency in Germany from Air Vice-Marshal Catherine Roberts and European Space Agency Director Daniel Neuenschwande following her appointment as Honorary Group Captain in RAAF.

Ms Bennell-Pegg, an astronaut candidate at the European Space Agency, is the first Australian to train as an astronaut under the Australian flag.

She has an accomplished space career and previously served as a reservist in the Australian Army.

The skills learnt while in Defence are something she leverages in her civil astronaut training and broader space career.

“It is an absolute honour to represent my country as the first astronaut trained under the Australian flag,” Ms Bennell-Pegg said.

“Through my training I see astronaut candidates with Defence backgrounds being highly successful, given the overlap in competencies required for astronauts.

“I see real potential in Australia harnessing Defence training to help develop potential future astronauts.”

In recognition of the skills and experience she brings to Defence, Ms Bennell-Pegg has been appointed as Honorary Group Captain in RAAF.

While on an official visit to participate in the Combined Space Operations Initiative in Berlin, Defence Space Commander Air Vice-Marshal Catherine Roberts presented her with her Australian Air Force uniform.

“While this flying suit is made of green thread, we are united by a golden thread to inspire young people and particularly young women into exciting STEM space careers,” Air Vice-Marshal Roberts said.

“We all look up at the stars with a sense of wonder. Imagine how incredible it is to work with that sense of wonder every day.

“The most rewarding part of being first is you get to inspire others to reach new heights. We stand here today to show the next generation of Australian space talent that with hard work, courage and determination, you really can reach the stars.”

Many think of astronauts and rockets when they think of a career in space. This only represents a small component of a rapidly expanding workforce.

The ADF offers a range of opportunities for people interested in space domain careers. Defence is building and sustaining a trained and highly skilled space workforce in order to meet the current demands and strategic circumstances.

As part of this, ADF personnel will soon be able to opt in to a career in space. This will allow personnel, regardless of their service, to build deep professional mastery in their chosen field through education, experience and exposure.


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