Australia’s Indigenous culture is being honoured in outer space, with astronauts carrying a special handcrafted boomerang aboard the International Space Station.
Carved out of Western Myall wood by Kaurna man Jack Buckskin, the boomerang has been received by the crew of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission.
It was commissioned by the South Australian Museum as an expression of modern Aboriginal culture and ingenuity and sent to US astronaut Shannon Walker after being presented to the state government at a ceremony last year.
“We are honoured and delighted to have it on board with us,” Dr Walker said in a video recorded aboard the International Space Station.
“After the flight we plan to return it to South Australia for public display, where we hope it will inspire people young and old to remember that human exploration has a long and deep history within the earliest human culture.
“That legacy benefits us all.”
Mr Buckskin, a cultural mentor known for spearheading a project aimed at reviving use of the Kaurna language, said it was a great honour.
“I’ve been very lucky to have Aboriginal items, such as shields, in places around the world like Austria and India which I thought was an awesome experience, but to have something up in space which is untouched territory is beyond words,” he said.
“We talk about connections with Aboriginal people, we talk about land, sea and sky but I don’t think space is a part of that sky world that we’re talking about.
“It’s pretty crazy that something that has been handmade down here is up in the reality of the sky world with our Aboriginal ancestors from that part of our culture.”
The spacecraft, manufactured by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and dubbed Resilience by its crew of three Americans and one Japanese astronaut, launched from Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre in November and docked at the ISS two days later.
It is the first crewed mission on a privately built space capsule purchased by NASA.
“In sending this great example of Aboriginal engineering and aerodynamics into space, we honour our Aboriginal culture while symbolising our ambitious, optimistic nature and the new industries being developed in South Australia,” Premier Steven Marshall said.