The Andy Thomas Space Foundation has launched an inaugural inclusion initiative, The Aurora Program, offering education opportunities in the space sector for students and young people living with disability.

The Aurora Program, which forms part of the Foundation’s Education Fund, will offer engaging and accessible education opportunities with the support of partners the Australian Space Agency, the Maras Foundation and SmartSat CRC.

As part of the pilot, eight South Australian schools will be involved: Compass Catholic Community, Thomas More College, Modbury Special School, Craigmore High School, Findon High School, Roma Mitchell Secondary School, Springbank Secondary College and Bowden Brompton Community School.

Each school will have the opportunity to visit the Australian Space Discovery Centre (ASDC) and have been given their own 3D printer as part of the program. The printer will be utilised in the challenge component of the initiative, where participating students will design an object inspired by their visits to the ASDC which could assist in the travel to or long-term life in space.

CEO of The Andy Thomas Space Foundation, Nicola Sasanelli, said the program will assist those interested in working within the space industry.

“This pilot program, which will be known as ‘The Aurora Program’, aims to inspire young generations living with a disability by the wonder of space, whilst raising funds to provide appropriate support and encouragement for such individuals working in or wishing to work in the space sector,” said Mr Sasanelli.

Enrico Palermo, Head of the Australian Space Agency, explained the program contributes to the Australian Space Agency’s strategic pillar that aims to inspire.

“The Inclusion Initiative Pilot Program will provide important learnings to make the space industry more accessible, aligning with the Agency’s ‘Inclusive’ value, which is focused on embracing our differences and drawing strength from diversity,” said Mr Palermo.

“The Australian Space Agency is committed to inspiring the nation to build a future space workforce that is diverse and provides career opportunities for all Australians.”

Following the pilot, The Andy Thomas Space Foundation hopes to rollout the program nationally in future years.

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