Australian graduates as astronaut at ESA ceremony in Cologne

(23 Apr 2024)

Cologne, Germany – 22 April 2024
1. ESA astronauts stepping on podium
2. Katherine Bennell-Pegg from Australia among astronauts on podium
3. Enrico Palermo, Head of the Australian Space Agency, arriving on podium
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Enrico Palermo, Head of the Australian Space Agency:
"Today is historic. Our own Katherine Bennell-Pegg becomes the first qualified career astronaut under the Australian flag (at the European Space Agency). We know the astronaut club is very exclusive and we’ve had representatives from down under at NASA, astronauts Dr. Andy Thomas and Dr. Paul Scully-Power. But today Katherine does that proudly with the Australian flag on her sleeve for the first time."
5. Zoom in to Katherine Bennell-Pegg from Australia arriving on podium and receiving her ESA astronaut certificate, leaving stage
6. Bennell-Pegg among other astronauts on podium
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Katherine Bennell-Pegg, Australian astronaut:
"For me, being an astronaut has definitely been a lifelong dream, but I never believed that I’d have the chance to do that as an Australian. When I grew up there wasn’t a space agency, let alone an astronaut program for Australia. And when I wanted to be an astronaut, it was first for that adventure, that curiosity so many kids have and then it was for the discoveries that can be unlocked by space. And so, I’m so grateful to the Australian Space Agency and others back home, and to ESA and my colleagues for making this possible. And I’m really determined to make the most of this, for everyone back home, to accelerate the opportunities for more Australians to be involved in human spaceflight one way or another in the future."
8. Bennell-Pegg among other astronauts on podium, camera pan left
9. Astronauts holding their certificates on podium
The European Space Agency has added five new members to its astronaut corps.

They graduated Monday during a ceremony in Cologne, Germany, after completing a year of training.

That brings the space agency’s astronaut roster up to 11.

The new astronauts are from France, Belgium, Britain, Switzerland and Spain.

An Australian has also joined them as part of an agreement.

Katherine Bennell-Pegg from Australia underwent training under a cooperation agreement between Australia and ESA.

She remains an employee of the Australian Space Agency.

It’s up to the Australian agency to find a way for her to travel in space.

The newcomers are now eligible for trips to the International Space Station.

More than 20,000 people applied for the five slots.


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