The Astra Committee - Welcoming you to the 2021/22 launch
The Astra committee meetings always start with personal updates. We reveal the extent of our lockdown purchases and where we might travel when restrictions ease. We question each other about unusual items in the pixelated windows to our homes; a birdcage converted to lamp shade and a green-glazed jug from an op-shop that doesn’t quite fit with the other décor. The committee has expanded since the first year, and although half of the members are new it hasn’t taken long to suggest future social meetings and settle into our roles. Energy is high, it is organised, and plans are underway for a successful lift-off in a few months time.
The Australian Youth Aerospace Association (AYAA).
The AYAA is a not-for-profit organisation managed by a passionate group of volunteers with a goal to promote education, awareness, and involvement in the aerospace industry for young Australians. The AYAA hosts the Aerospace Futures conference, the Australian Universities Rocket Competition, and the Australian Youth Aerospace Forum. State committees hold several local events throughout the year including networking nights.
The AYAA also provides the Young Australian Space Leader Scholarship which supports young people to attend the Space Generation Congress (SGC), a multi-day event where young professionals from all around the world network, hear from experts, and participate in working groups. They formulate recommendations for stakeholders, the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), and the UN, about space-related topics.
Creating the Astra Program.
In 2020 the AYAA’s flagship event Aerospace Futures was cancelled due to COVD-19. In response to this “A small team of people put together a proposal for a fully online program inspired by the SGC with a creative Australian twist” (Astra Director Meaghan Munro). Encouraged by the active engagement and multidisciplinary focus of the SGC, Meaghan, Hamish Self, Annie Handmer, Thien Nguyen and Josh Rohan-Gould spent months brainstorming the bones of a successful program and running test sessions. After the additional recruitment of Priya SK, Emily Painter, and Daniel Jackson, and with the early support of the South Australian Space Industry Centre (SASIC), The Astra Program was open for motivated students and young professionals to weigh in on the complex challenges of space.
2020 - The First Year of the Astra Program.
Selected participants were divided into three groups, Acacia, Banksia, and Casuarina, named after native Australian fire-resistant trees. Working in interdisciplinary groups, the participants were given a fictitious stakeholder profile and scenarios to address the challenges of launch capability in our emerging space nation. The program culminated in a collaborative white paper for the space industry and government called “Igniting an Industry: Creating a Blueprint for Launch in Australia.”
What is coming for 2021-2022? You won’t have to wait long to find out….
Reflections from the 2020 participants.
“After participating in the Astra Program I feel so much more connected to the Australian space industry, both professionally and personally. It’s an incredible opportunity for anybody interested in space to get involved, make a real contribution, and meet some of the amazing people who are part of the industry already.”
“By working with other students and young professionals from a diverse range of disciplines, the Astra program has made me look at the Australian space industry from a new, well rounded perspective.”
“Participating in the Astra program is an amazing opportunity to apply your talents to advising the Australian aerospace industry on addressing its current challenges and seizing opportunities. The program excels in broadening participants’ understanding of the industry and is truly multidisciplinary.”
“The Astra program was an incredible opportunity to make a real world impact on the development of the Space industry within Australia today. As a group of students and young professionals from a diverse range of educational backgrounds and geographical locations, we were able to bring a new perspective and mindset to the current space concerns as the up and coming space generation. The program facilitated a strong and unique team environment in which we were able to develop lasting friendships and connections, while learning continually and experiencing immensely valuable and inspiring industry exposure. It’s an inspiring and one of a kind program for anyone with a passion or interest in aerospace!”