26 September 2023

Adelaide koalas return from space

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The pair of stuffed toy koalas, shown off after travelling to the International Space Station and back.

The Australian Space Agency greets visitors to the foyer of its headquarters in Adelaide with a collection of fascinating space artefacts.

Among them are Australia’s most recent astronauts – a stuffed toy koala and joey – that have travelled to the International Space Station (ISS) and back and are on loan from the Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA).

The toys were a door prize from the SIAA for an event at the 2016 International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Mexico.

A NASA employee won the koalas, which were then taken on a secret mission to the ISS, travelling around 16 million kilometres during their month in space.

NASA’s International Space Station Program Manager, Kirk Shireman, said NASA returned the koalas to the SIAA as a surprise gift at the IAC in Adelaide in 2017.

“These guys have travelled farther than any other koalas in history,” Mr Shireman said.

It was at the opening ceremony of the Adelaide IAC that the Australian Government announced it would establish a space agency in 2018.

This decision and the subsequent establishment of the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre paved the way for a new space age in Australia.

More information on the Cooperative Research Centre can be accessed from this PS News link.

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