Space alumni discuss Australia's future place in space

Monday, 25 September 2017

Four of the University of Adelaide’s most distinguished alumni involved in the global space industry, including former NASA astronaut Dr Andy Thomas, AO, will this week help the University celebrate its past and present involvement in the space industry.

Fifty years ago, University of Adelaide physics researchers worked with Australia’s Weapons Research Establishment to design, build and launch Australia’s first satellite, WRESAT, and earlier this year a University of Adelaide-built miniaturised satellite was launched by NASA, one of three Australian ‘CubeSats’ and the first Australian satellites launched in 15 years.

In Adelaide for this week’s International Astronautical Congress – the world’s largest annual gathering of space professionals – the four University alumni will discuss their experiences in the space industry and Australia’s potential space future at a special University of Adelaide public lecture.

Dr Andy Thomas, the world’s first Australian-born astronaut, retired in 2014 after 22 years with NASA, four space flights, 177 days in space, a spacewalk, and four months living in zero gravity on the Mir space station. Dr Thomas graduated from the University of Adelaide with a degree and PhD in mechanical engineering.

Dr Kimberley Clayfield is Executive Manager of Space Sciences and Technology at CSIRO where she is responsible for the coordination and support of CSIRO’s space-related activities, and helps to guide Australia’s space technology agenda. Dr Clayfield graduated from the University of Adelaide with a degree and PhD in mechanical engineering.

Dr Justin Hardi leads the Combustion Dynamics Group at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), Germany’s national research centre for aeronautics and space. He is a highly experienced rocket propulsion research engineer. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Engineering (Aerospace) and a PhD in propulsion engineering.

Andrea Boyd is an International Space Station (ISS) Flight Operations Engineer, based at the European Astronaut Centre in Germany. She is the only Australia’s on the ISS flight control team and is based at the European Astronaut Centre in Germany. She graduated from the University of Adelaide with degrees in engineering and economics.

“The University of Adelaide has a long history with space research and development, and is very proud of its distinguished alumni who continue to make their mark in the global space industry,” says University of Adelaide Interim Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Brooks.

“Today we continue to produce highly talented graduates and postgraduates in aerospace and other engineering as well as generating leading-edge research in areas from aeronautics and high-pressure combustion through to new developments in space law.

“We welcome today’s announcement of the new space agency and look forward to contributing strongly to this important sector.”

The public lecture, Making our place in space: opportunities for Australia’s space future, is booked out but can be watched by livestream on the University’s facebook site at on Wednesday 27 September, 5.30–6.30 pm.


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