Search Blackfriars

17 August 2021

Learning really takes off

Year 10 study may not be rocket science – but, last week at Blackfriars, it…

Year 10 study may not be rocket science – but, last week at Blackfriars, it came very close.

Melanie Golding’s Year 10 students were treated to a visit by Rod Smith, the Resilient Multi-Mission Space (RMS) Science Technology and Research (STaR) Shot Leader from the Intelligence, Surveillance & Space Division of the Defence Science and Technology Group.

It’s a long job title, but, in its simplest form, it’s Mr Smith’s job to demonstrate “leap-ahead” technologies on Australia space missions.

Mr Smith talked about what South Australian and Australian companies were doing in space and potential career options, including some outside the traditional STEM field.

“There are over 100 companies in Australia, and a lot of them in South Australia, working in space,” Mr Smith told the class, adding that Australia had a rich history in the sector.

“I don’t know if you’re aware that Australia actually invented the black box flight recorder,” he said.

“We’ve been doing stuff in all sorts of areas … the Deep Space tracking network at Tidbinbilla (in Canberra), that was actually beaming the Apollo 11 television signal when they landed on the moon for the first time back in 1969.

“We’re doing things like Desert Fireball Network tracking meteorites and those sorts of things.”

But he said careers in space were about much more than just science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

“We need people in law. We need people to be able to communicate. We need people in medicine. We need people in materials. There are all sorts of things that people can work in if they’re interested in space,” he said.

Space law was an emerging issue.

“One of the key things is how do we, legally, operate in space and do it in a way that is internally responsible?” he said.

“There is a lot of policy because there is not a lot of law that surrounds space operations. There are some very broad agreements, but it’s a bit of an unchartered territory to make sure we have responsible behaviours in space, and we’re really interested in making sure that everyone tries to act to international norms that we can put in place.

“There is also just, legally, how do we approve launches to take off from a certain area? How do we do materials and make sure that they are not going to contaminate or pollute and how do we put laws around that? So, there are opportunities there.”

He was also confident of people successfully travelling to Mars – sooner rather than later.

“The US has a program – Mission to Mars – and Australia is a part of that,” he said. “There will be an intent to get people on to Mars … for all sorts of endeavours (and) I think you’ll see it before the end of the decade.”