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Australian astronaut candidate to receive basic training with ESA
Katherine Bennell-Pegg, Director of Space Technology at the Australian Space Agency. She will undertake basic astronaut training at ESA's European Astronaut Centre (EAC) near Cologne, Germany, alongside ESA's newly selected career astronauts from April 2023. This is the first time ESA is giving basic training to an astronaut candidate from an international partner, making EAC the third centre in the world to do so.
Australian astronaut candidate to receive basic training with ESA
by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) Mar 09, 2023

Katherine Bennell-Pegg, Director of Space Technology at the Australian Space Agency, will undertake basic astronaut training at ESA's European Astronaut Centre (EAC) near Cologne, Germany, from April 2023.

This is the first time ESA is giving basic training to an astronaut candidate from an international partner, making EAC the third centre in the world to do so.

Katherine will be trained alongside ESA's newly selected career astronauts and will receive basic training certification after successfully completing the approximately one-year instruction at EAC.

About Katherine
Katherine is a space systems engineer and has worked in the space industry for over 12 years across six countries, on human spaceflight missions and technologies, the International Space Station, debris removal concepts, scientific, Earth observation and space exploration missions.

As a dual British citizen, Katherine applied to ESA's call for new astronauts in 2021. She successfully passed all selection stages, which highly qualifies her to start basic astronaut training. Based on her strong results in the ESA astronaut selection process, the Australian Space Agency has decided to cover the cost of her participation in basic training.

She will be trained at ESA as an Australian astronaut candidate on a cost reimbursement basis, similar to how non-American astronauts train at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

Katherine will be seconded to ESA for the training while remaining an employee of the Australian Space Agency. She will not?become an active member of the ESA astronaut corps.

"As the European centre of excellence for astronaut selection, training and support, the teams at EAC provide European and international astronauts with the skills and knowledge they need to fly to the International Space Station today, while preparing them for exploration beyond low Earth orbit. As one of only three centres in the world to train foreign astronauts and certify completion of basic training according to the international ISS standards, we look forward to continuing this journey together", explains David Parker, ESA Director of Human and Robotic Exploration.

Joint training to the benefit of all
Katherine was given the opportunity to take part in ESA's basic astronaut training, as the Australian Space Agency, which was established only four years ago, is interested in growing and building their space sector by gaining broader access and insight into human spaceflight and strengthen the partnership between Europe and Australia.

"International cooperation has always been paramount for ESA and will become even more important as we venture further into space. I welcome the Australian Space Agency's interest in gaining knowledge and expertise in human space flight to advance their space programme. By training Katherine alongside European astronaut candidates at EAC, we are strengthening the bonds of international partnerships and providing ESA expertise to our partners. I am very glad to see this cooperation with Australia and look forward to further strengthen our excellent relationship", says ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.

This secondment will allow Katherine to receive training, as well as develop and harness knowledge that can be brought home to benefit Australia on space-based technologies that improve life on Earth, including remote healthcare, food production, medical science and access to space technology.

The training will help her inspire the next generation of Australian scientists and engineers and increase the number of women and men in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers.

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