Inside the Astra Program - Reflecting on Our First Two Assemblies

Welcome to the first installation of the Astra blog! These posts will keep you updated on the Astra program as it progresses and develops with this year’s cohort of wonderful participants. Let’s dive straight in – there’s so much we want to tell you!

“The Astra program has been an incredible experience thus far – one with extensive learning opportunities. The program has exposed participants like myself to the great complexities and wonders of the aerospace industry. We have had the opportunity to hear from a variety of industry professionals about the current state and nature of the Australian aerospace industry, and have started to explore the multidisciplinary aspects of aerospace, ranging from environmental impacts to associated law and policy which has been eye-opening and extremely intriguing.”

That’s a quote from Eleonor Logan-Cole, one of 31 carefully chosen participants of the Astra Program. They are studying a Bachelor of Aeronautical Engineering with a Space Major, as well as a Bachelor of Science majoring in physics. She commenced the program along with her teammates in December 2020, at the first Astra Assembly.

Astra Assemblies are fortnightly online gatherings where teams learn from space experts and collaborate on addressing pressing issues in the aerospace industry. This year, we are focusing on “Igniting an Industry – Creating a Blueprint for Launch in Australia”

During our first Assembly, participants were introduced to the program and their team coordinators, who facilitate each team’s discussion and progress. We’d like to thank the Australian Space Agency, as well as the South Australian Space Industry Centre, for delivering engaging introductory talks to excite, contextualise, and aid the cohort in understanding the complexities of this year’s theme.

A week later at the second Assembly, participants were introduced to Astra’s Four Pillars – a simple framework to get participants thinking about the problems they might face in later negotiation activities, and issues they must consider when working on their launch scenario. Our Four Pillars are:

  • Sustainability
  • Society & Culture
  • Technology; and
  • Law & Policy

Participants discovered that the technical aspects of launching a rocket in Australia are just the beginning. Each launch must consider what is permitted within current legal frameworks, how they can minimise environmental impacts, land rights and public opinion, among a plethora of other complexities. 

And now, a reflection from Quynh Duong on the first two Astra Assemblies. Quynh is one of our Team Coordinators working hard to make this experience memorable for our participants.

“The two 2020 assemblies have been a goldmine of learning and teamwork. The delegates are eager to contribute to discussions and have already identified larger issues that the team wants to address throughout the program. The presentations have been engaging and very eye-opening and the delegates were quick to ask questions and delve deeper into the problem.”

Tune in next week to discover more about our adventures during the third Assembly!