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39 year old Mum of 2 Katherine Bennell-Pegg Becomes Australia’s First Astronaut

April 23, 2024 10:04 am in by
Image : Picture Alliance / Getty Images

Katherine Bennell-Pegg, who spent her childhood with her feet dipped in the ocean on Sydney’s northern beaches and her eyes gazing at the stars, dared to dream what seemed impossible.

Fast forward to today, Katherine is an engineer, a proud mother of two and now the first ever astronaut to graduate under the Australian flag.

Growing up in an Australia devoid of a space agency, let alone a human spaceflight program, Katherine’s astronaut dream felt distant. “Becoming an astronaut was a dream – one I never truly believed would come to fruition, especially not as an Australian representative. This achievement is an immense honor,” she shared with AAP.

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Before Katherine, Australians like Andy Thomas and Paul Scully Power ventured into space, but as American citizens, leaving the title of the first Australian in space untouched until now.

Upon her graduation, Dr. Thomas, a now retired NASA astronaut, couldn’t hide his pride. “You are now poised to take the next giant leap, venturing where no Australian woman has ventured before,” he celebrated.

Katherine embarked on her training back in April 2023 at the European Space Agency in Germany.

She was one of six astronauts graduating on Monday, after having conquered a rigorous curriculum that spanned from low-gravity flights to survival training.

With her basic training certification in hand, Katherine is now ready for missions to the International Space Station.

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While no missions are on the horizon just yet, she remains hopeful.

“Representing Australia in space would be an extraordinary honor. The world of space flight is brimming with excitement, and I’m eager to see where this journey takes me,” she remarked.

Katherine, who is also a director of space technology at the Australian Space Agency and said she plans to return to Australia in mid-2024.

Her mission upon return? To ignite the imaginations of the next generation, proving that an astronaut dream is not just legitimate but achievable. “I aim to visit schools and encourage kids to dream big. Every astronomical ambition begins with a dream,” she said.

Enrico Palermo, head of the Australian Space Agency, couldn’t be prouder. “Katherine’s return as a fully qualified astronaut will bring invaluable knowledge, insights, and connections to our industry, sparking innovation and economic growth. We’re thrilled to welcome her back,” he said.

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From the shores of Sydney to the stars, Katherine Bennell-Pegg’s journey is a testament to the power of dreams and the endless possibilities that lie within the cosmos.

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