Astronaut-in-waiting To Outline Future Plans For Space

Space factories could be orbiting the Earth in a decade, producing life-saving 3D-printed organs and pharmaceuticals for those in need, and Australian-raised reserve astronaut, Dr Meganne Christian, can’t wait to tell Brisbane audiences about it.

A guest of QUT and World Science Festival Brisbane, Dr Christian will speak at the flagship QUT research event series, QUT Connections: a forum for bold ideas, which showcases world-leading research across disciplines, cultures and global boundaries.

The former Wollongong local, who has citizenship in four countries, and who lived for a year in a place called ”White Mars” in Antarctica, was selected from 22,500 applications to join the European Space Agency as one of 12 reserve astronauts in November 2022.

Dr Meganne Christian

“Waiting is tough. There are no guarantees, but there is something interesting going on at the moment,” she said. “The UK Space Agency has a memorandum of understanding with Axiom Space (the world’s first commercial space station) to invest in the possibility of an all-British mission that is fully commercially funded.”

While she waits for her ticket to space, Dr Christian is working with the UK Space Agency as Exploration Commercialisation Lead, ensuring the future of manufacturing in space through partnerships with commercial space stations that are set to replace the International Space Station (ISS) when it is decommissioned in 2030.

“Zero gravity is a game changer in science. There are a lot of things you can do when you don’t have gravity, particularly in pharmaceuticals and advanced materials like semi-conductors and fibre optics.”

The 3D printing of tissues and organs and the crystallisation of pharmaceuticals that can’t be crystalised on Earth are among the medical advances that Dr Christian is hoping to test further in the new space stations.

“We have tested this on the ISS but it really needs to be upscaled and tested further to demonstrate what can be achieved,” she said.

Distinguished Professor Christopher Barner-Kowollik, QUT Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research), welcomed Dr Christian to Brisbane for QUT Connections: a forum for bold ideas.

“I would encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to learn from someone whose study path has taken them around the world and someday even to space,” Distinguished Professor Barner-Kowollik said.

“Meg is here for young and old and some of the most inspiring questions she has been asked have come from children.”

The forum can be attended in person or through livestream, giving rural and remote Australians, shift workers and schools the opportunity to attend wherever they are on Wednesday.

“The world is rapidly changing. To adapt and thrive in this environment, research is key – both fundamental and applied. It is through research that we produce bold ideas that benefit the world,” he said.

Main picture: Getty Image

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