Having attended the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, I can attest to the country’s eagerness to join America in promoting space-based research.
I can confirm this fact, not because of the enthusiasm of panelists and members of the press, but because of the words – and actions – of teachers, scientists and public figures who want to partner with America to explore the heavens.
Australia is, after all, more than the “Land Down Under”: It is a land of Anglo-Asian influence, home to a diversity of peoples and a number of top research universities, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs and advocates of space-based research. With its economic ties to Japan and China, in addition to its bond with the British Commonwealth and the citizens of the United States, Australia is ready to co-write the next chapter of the New Space Age.
This relationship has its roots in the early years of America’s space program, when the residents of Perth, Australia, would make history by making their region the “City of Lights”; turning this area into a nighttime display of gold lines and golden clusters of light, while John Glenn would see this sign of solidarity during his multiple orbits of Earth.
The memories still flourish in Perth, a fact I can speak to because it is a reality residents of the city are happy to speak to — offering praise to the United States and accepting praise from Americans about this historic moment.
Australians want to keep those lights shining through the benefits of space-based research.
We have a chance, Australians and Americans alike, to convert rhetoric into reality; which is to say we have the opportunity to unite schools in one hemisphere with institutions in another, establishing an alliance that goes from Sydney to San Diego, from Perth to Plymouth Rock, from Melbourne to Michigan.
This partnership would enable two countries of global importance to transform education for the good of people throughout the globe, emphasizing the growth of this symbolic stem into a STEM that furthers progress, rewards creativity, remunerates innovators and restores inventors to their rightful place at the forefront of discovery.
Imagine teachers in Australia and America working on joint projects concerning space-based research, culminating in liftoff – climaxing in the trajectory of the rockets’ red glare – as payloads containing experiments reach the International Space Station.
Picture reviving the excitement of exploring space, of seeing students test their experiments, of watching an idea go from the realm of the theoretical to the domain of the practical, of viewing the development of applications that begin on earth and take shape as they soar toward the heavens.
Australia and America have the resources – and the resilience – necessary to lead the New Space Age.
Everything I see highlights that assertion, because everything there is to see underscores that statement. This partnership is an invitation to collaborate in ways previously too expensive to subsidize or too restrictive to seek.
Now is the time to seize this moment, at home and abroad.
Carie Lemack is the co-founder and CEO of DreamUp, the first company bringing space into classrooms and classrooms into space. A former national security policy expert/advocate and producer of an Academy Award-nominated film, Carie is a proud alumna of Space Camp and supporter of all space cadets reaching for the stars.