Inspiring Aussie kids to reach for the stars

An Australian woman will make history as she heads to Germany for astronaut training with the European Space Agency (ESA).

Katherine Bennell-Pegg will be the first Australian-born woman to represent our nation in astronaut training by an international space agency.


As a space systems engineer with over 12 years’ experience, Ms Bennell-Pegg has studied and worked across six countries on human spaceflight missions and technologies, the International Space Station, debris removal concepts, scientific, earth observation and space exploration missions.

Ms Bennell-Pegg, an employee of the Department of Industry, Science and Resources working at the Australian Space Agency, will be seconded to ESA to begin training in April. When she completes her intensive training in mid-2024, Ms Bennell-Pegg will receive basic training certification, a prerequisite for missions to the International Space Station. 

The secondment will further strengthen Australia’s relationship with Europe, including in relation to space science. 

Quotes attributable to Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic:

“Katherine’s achievements demonstrate a pathway to space for every kid in this country with a passion for science. We hope Katherine becomes an inspiration and example for others. 

“This opportunity didn’t happen randomly. It reflects Katherine’s dedication and effort. Well done to her.

“Katherine’s selection for astronaut training follows closely on Dr. Meganne Christian’s selection as a reservist astronaut for the European Space Agency only six months ago. 

“On International Women’s Day, we celebrate these women and the outsize role Australian-trained STEM talent is playing on the world stage – and taking us to the stars.”

Quotes attributable to Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo:

“This opportunity will provide rare insight into human space flight and improve access for Australian scientists and engineers into space-based programs to expand existing knowledge and capability in our country.

“Katherine’s secondment also further strengthens our proud history of collaboration with Europe in space, which dates back nearly 45 years.”

Quotes attributable to European Space Agency Director General, Josef Aschbacher:

“International cooperation has always been paramount and will become even more important as we venture further into space. 

“By training Katherine alongside European astronaut candidates, we are strengthening the bonds of international partnerships and providing ESA expertise to our partners.”

Quotes attributable to Katherine Bennell-Pegg:

“I have always dreamed of being an astronaut. When I was young, it was for the adventure but after more than a decade working in space it’s now because I know the role it plays in tackling real-world problems and developing new knowledge that can benefit our society, environment and science.

“I want to use this experience to open doors for Australian scientists and engineers to utilise space for their discoveries, to inspire the pursuit of STEM careers, and show all Australians that they too can reach for the stars.”