A Program that could lead to Australia’s first Indigenous astronaut launched in Adelaide on Tuesday in collaboration with Monash university and NASA.

The National Indigenous Space Academy will see up to five Indigenous Australian university STEM students undertake a 10-week full summer internship program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

The program’s lead, Professor Chris Lawrence said that excitement was in the air during the announcement.

“The Indigenous students that were there from the CSIRO National Indigenous girls STEM academy and some other Indigenous students that came along, and obviously everybody else that was there was excited to hear that there was this opportunity and pathway to collaborate and go and study in NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena,” he said.

Lawrence says that he hopes the program will inspire the next generation of Indigenous students choosing a career in STEM, noting that the program is just another example of Indigenous innovation.

“Indigenous Australians are the first scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.

If anyone can pick up a piece of wood, throw it and make it come back they have got to be innovators,” he said.

Lawrence says that the program aims to broaden the horizon for Indigenous students in STEM who feel like they are in a bubble forced to choose careers in mining, banking, and government.

“The fact that we are promoting the program is to actually spot the spotlight on those students who are studying STEM and saying, ‘you are not alone and here’s your other mop, their space explorers at NASA’s JPL’,” he said.

If you’re currently studying in a STEM field and interested in becoming an astronaut, apply here

Listen to the interview with Professor Chris Lawrence:

Images Supplied: Australian Space Agency.