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Australia's astronaut, Dr Andy Thomas suited up. Credit: NASA.

Australia’s astronaut, Dr Andy Thomas suited up. Credit: NASA.

Most of us will have wondered what it would be like to fly amongst the stars – to be an astronaut.  Dr Andy Thomas knows. He is Australia’s first astronaut in space and he is heading to Perth from 13th-15th September to let us know what it is like beyond the horizon.

Dr Thomas’ visit is an initiative of the Fogarty Foundation, a leading philanthropic and education organisation in Western Australia that engages leaders in their field to speak about their achievements and their passions and encourages others to take leading roles in our community.

The Fogarty Foundation is working in conjunction with The University of Western Australia, Curtin University, the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), Scitech,  UWA’s Aspire program, the UWA/WA Department of Education teachers’ enrichment program (SPICE) and the US Consul General to enable Dr Thomas to speak with scholars and scientists, primary and secondary students and teachers and interested members of the public.

Born and raised in Adelaide, Andy Thomas earned his degree and then doctorate of Engineering at the University of South Australia.  Dr Thomas was selected by NASA in 1992 and, following a year’s training, was appointed a member of the astronaut corps and qualified for assignment as a mission specialist on Space Shuttle flight crews. He flew his first flight in space on Endeavour in May 1996 and completed his fourth space flight on STS-114 logging over 177 days in space.  He is currently working for the Exploration Branch of the Astronaut Office.

While in Perth one of his engagements will be a public lecture at Curtin University with a planned hook-up to the International Space Station.  Australia has very restricted access to the International Space Station and this is a great opportunity coinciding with his visit to Perth.  If successful, Dr Thomas will be speaking to his wife Shannon Walker who is also an astronaut on the current space mission.