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.

Messages for Dr Thomas can be sent by clicking here.

Dr Megan Clark AC – Co-Patron

Dr Megan Clark is the former Head of the Australian Space Agency. Prior to her appointment, she chaired the Expert Working Group into the Review of Australia’s Space Industry Capability. Through that role she became the leading player in the establishment of the Australian Space Agency in 2018 and was the primary architect of the renewed national commitment to the growth of the Australian space sector.

She is also a director of Rio Tinto and CSL Limited and she is a member of the Australian advisory board of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch. 

She was Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) from 2009 to 2014.  

Prior to the CSIRO, she was a Director at NM Rothschild and Sons (Australia) and was Vice President Technology and subsequently Vice President Health, Safety and Environment at BHP Billiton from 2003 to 2008. 

Dr Clark holds a B.Sc. from the University of Western Australia and a PhD from Queen’s University, Canada and is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, a Fellow of the AusIMM and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  

In 2014, she was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia. 


12 January 2022

First Italo-Australian Space Applications Workshop on Earth Observation Opportunities for Space Start-ups
Monday 31 January 2022 at 5.25 pm Australian Central Summer Time

Space-based applications are helping the world to be more sustainable in many areas of life as well as improving economic competitiveness and efficiency.

Earth observation and remote sensing are enhancing scientific understanding of water cycles, air quality, forests and other aspects of the natural environment. These ‘new’ applications involve private companies, universities and research organisations. Start-up businesses are also being established in this sector in order to develop and commercialise exciting and innovative products and services.

This bilateral workshop will provide an update on space applications start-up projects in Italy and Australia and will explore new opportunities for international collaboration in activities such as environmental monitoring and action and sustainable resource management and conservation.

Registation is free.

9 July 2021 

Andy Thomas Space Foundation partners with Playford Trust in New Space Engineering Scholarships

The Playford Trust and the Andy Thomas Space Foundation will partner to provide four $5000 scholarships that will encourage high-achieving school leavers to study aerospace engineering at the University of Adelaide in 2022.

Click here to read the joint announcement.

1 July 2021 

Andy Thomas Space Foundation Receives DGR Status

The Andy Thomas Space Foundation is pleased to announce that the Australian Parliament has passed legislation that bestows DGR (Deductible Gift Recipient) status on the Foundation. The newly-acquired status, which is retrospective to July 1, 2020, means donations of more than $2 to the Foundation are tax deductible. 

Click here to read the Foundation’s announcement.

25 June 2021 

Pioneering Primary Schools Space Education Program Launched

The Andy Thomas Space Foundation and Makers Empire today announce an Australia-first pilot program for primary schools, to deliver education in awareness of space career opportunities.

The primary schools program, budgeted at $45,000, follows the announcement by the Foundation in March of scholarships at secondary, tertiary and post-graduate levels. In less than one year the Foundation has been able to arrange funding for over $200,000 in scholarships and awards in Australian STEM and space education and research initiatives.

Click here to read the Foundation’s announcement.

27 January 2021

The Andy Thomas Space Foundation has signed a funding agreement with the South Australian Government to support space education and inspire young South Australians to pursue careers in the state’s booming space sector.

The Foundation has committed to use the funding to work alongside the Australian Space Discovery Centre to inspire the next generation of the state’s space workforce, as well as to provide scholarships and in-kind support to increase resources for space education and outreach.

The Andy Thomas Space Foundation has also been appointed to take over the running of the biannual Australian Space Forum, one of Australia’s premier space industry events. The 11th Australian Space Forum will be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre on Wednesday, 31 March 2021.

Registrations for the forum are opening soon. Follow the Andy Thomas Space Foundation on social media for more information on the event or email to inquire about sponsorship or exhibition opportunities.

23 January 2021 

The Andy Thomas Space Foundation is bidding to host the International  Astronautical Congress in 2024. 

Click here to read the Foundation’s announcement.

Click here to read the supporting announcement by the Premier of South Australia.

20 November 2020

The Foundation was launched today.  We received the following messages of congratulations.

Play Video

Dr Andrew Thomas AO
Australian Astronaut

Play Video

Hon. Steven Marshall MP
Premier of South Australia


Play Video

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 became 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

Click the astronaut

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