Human progress is in space exploration

‘Quod Invenias Explorans Spatium Progressus Est Humanitatis’

The Andy Thomas
Space Foundation




Our vision is an ecosystem that promotes and supports the highest quality space activities in Australia – to drive progress in education, research and innovation.



Our mission is to promote social well-being and overcome disadvantage in Australia and to advocate in favour of space as a domain for international cooperation and peaceful co-existence. We will achieve our mission by supporting the outreach and education goals of the Australian Space Agency and by acting as an interface between the space community and the public. This will involve building a culture of entrepreneurship and igniting a curiosity for space and related scientific activities among young Australians.



Our purpose is to achieve our mission through the following three interconnected goals:

  1. Advancing Space Education – Making STEM literacy for all students an educational priority. 
  2. Raising Space Awareness – Making connections between space science and technologies and our everyday lives.
  3. Contributing to the national space community – Through events and other education initiatives

Dr Andrew Thomas AO – Founding Patron

Andrew Thomas received a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Mechanical Engineering, with First Class Honours, from the University of Adelaide, South Australia, in 1973, and a Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Adelaide, South Australia, in 1978. 
After a career as a Research Scientist in the United States with Lockheed Martin he was selected by NASA and following one year of training, he was appointed a member of the NASA astronaut corps in 1993. 
In June 1995, he was appointed payload commander for the shuttle mission STS-77 and flew his first flight in space on Endeavour in May 1996. He next trained at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Russia in preparation for a long-duration flight. In 1998, he served as Board Engineer 2 aboard the Russian Space Station Mir for 130 days.
His third mission was in March, 2001 in shuttle mission STS-102 on board Discovery. From August 2001 to November 2003, he served as Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA Johnson in Houston.
His fourth space flight was on Discovery STS-114 from 26 July to August 9, 2005. He has logged more than 177 days in space. He retired from NASA in February 2014. 
He has been a leading advocate for the development of the Australian space sector and his contributions in Australia have been recognised with awards which include Officer of the Order of Australia and Life Membership of the Space Industry Association of Australia.


The Foundation was launched on 20th November 2020.  We received the following messages of congratulations.

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Dr Andrew Thomas AO
Australian Astronaut

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Hon. Steven Marshall MP
Premier of South Australia


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Dr Megan Clark AC
Head, Australian Space Agency

Nicola Sasanelli – CEO

Adjunct Professor Nicola Sasanelli AM

Nicola graduated from the University of Bari, Italy in 1987 with a degree in Electronic Engineering. He went on to work as a researcher in microelectronics high-reliability components at Tecnopolis S&T Research Centre, Bari before being appointed as Scientific Attaché at the Embassy of Italy in Canberra from 2001 to 2008.

In 2009, Nicola joined the South Australian Government as a Special Envoy for higher education research and technology transfer to Europe with the Department of Premier and Cabinet and later joined the Department of State Development as Director for International R&D Collaborations.

From 2003 to 2013 he was appointed as Adjunct Professor of Science and Technology at the University of Canberra, Australia, and in 2007 he became an Honorary Member of the Order of Australia.

In 2016 Nicola joined Defence SA (South Australian Government) as Director of the Space Industry and R&D Collaborations project.

In September 2017 the South Australian Space Industry Centre was created, with Nicola as Director. His focus was to support space industry growth and increase international R&D collaborations in South Australia’s space sector.

In 2018 Nicola was appointed Adjunct Professor at the University of South Australia – Division of Information Technology, Engineering and the Environment and he was appointed on the board of the Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA). In the same year he was also appointed to the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic by the Italian Government for ‘promoting high-tech industry and R&D collaborations between Italy and Australia’.

In 2019 Nicola joined SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre as Director of Communication and Outreach, becoming Senior Advisor of South Australian Space Industry Centre and in 2020 Nicola founded and become the CEO of the Andy Thomas Space Foundation.

Nicola’s main passion, outside of his interest in space, is painting.

Inspiring the next generation of space leaders

The Andy Thomas
Space Foundation

Major institutions, corporations, SME’s, other philanthropic foundations and private individuals can all contribute to and assist our mission.

Your support can take the form of:

  • Scholarships
  • Annual Sponsorships
  • Collaborative internship programs at secondary and tertiary level
  •  Funding for in-school space education programs
  • In-kind and volunteer support

For more information please contact us by email

The Foundation is committed to promoting and supporting the highest quality space activities in Australia to drive progress in education, research and innovation to ensure that the space sector is a key contributor to Australia’s economic transformation.


Government Supporters

Corporate Sponsors

Professional Partners

Event Partner