Monday, 4 September 2000
At the start of October, Kimberley Clayfield will be travelling into space. Metaphorically, at least.
Ms Clayfield, for Adelaide University's Department of Mechanical Engineering, is the Program Director of SpaceFutures 2000, a conference which will run from October 4-7 in Canberra, and which will bring together youth from all over Australia to discuss the promotion of space for the future of Australia.
"Australia can have a future in the global space industry," says Ms Clayfield, "and the key things that the space industry needs for success are education and collaboration."
"Space Futures 2000 is about bringing together young people who are passionate about the development of a strong Australian space industry, and giving them a chance to meet, to exchange ideas, to have their enthusiasm noted by industry and government representatives, and make a positive difference to space policy in this country," says Ms Clayfield.
The conference is being presented by the Australian Students' Space Association (ASSA), which was founded in Queensland in 1998. Its first achievements were a successful forum and a launch of the national magazine Aurora Australia.
As the association expanded nationally, Melbourne became the site for a second conference in 1999, involving a live video conference with Andy Thomas. That year, five ASSA delegates also represented Australia at the United Nations Space Generations Forum.
The link with the United Nations continues. SpaceFutures 2000 will be held in conjunction with the UN Space Week, ensuring international interest in the forum's outcomes, one of which will be the launch of ASSA National, a body responsible for co-ordinating activities in all states.
"In the past, the Australian space industry has suffered from fragmentation and a serious lack of funding," says Ms Clayfield. "Many young people with the skills and enthusiasm to make a positive contribution to the Australian industry have moved overseas to work in more established space programs," she says. "There is no better time for young Australians to come together to show their support for an Australian space industry.'
The three days of the conference include addresses, technical sessions, round table discussions and public forums. Sponsorship is being sought, especially from those who have supported the events in the past, and who include government departments, corporations or educational institutions with an interest in the development of an Australian space industry.
Following the presentation of an Australian Youth Space Charter to Parliament at the conclusion of SpaceFutures 2000, ASSA hopes to establish a Youth Space Advisory Council to ensure that government receives the ongoing representation of young Australians' views on a space industry for Australia.
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