A BLACKBURN teenager with stars in his eyes and rockets in his dreams is on a mission to inspire the next generation of Australian space explorers.
Henry Wu, 17, a Year 11 student at Camberwell Grammar School, is the founder of the Australian Youth Space Society.
Last September, Henry attended Space Camp in Alabama, USA, where it dawned on him how small Australia’s own space industry really is.
“It was heartbreaking to see that Australia hasn’t got its own space program that conducts domestic launches,” Henry said.
“While at Space Camp, I could see there were so many other young people interested in space, so, I thought why don’t I try and do something about this.”
Upon his return home Henry founded the society as a way of inspiring young Australians to reach for galaxies millions of light years away.
“What this project does is provide a unique opportunity for students to realise and explore their interest in space,” Henry said.
“It is designed to revive space interest across Australia and help expand Australia’s space industry in the future.”
In addition to running ongoing projects for students at Camberwell Grammar — including a lunchtime rocket launch on the school’s tennis courts — Henry also has big plans to continue expanding his space network.
“I plan to organise a Space Day for students where I hope to invite guest speakers to talk about various space topics and hold workshops,” Henry said.
This week is National Science Week, Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology, which runs from August 13-21.
As part of it, Henry arranged for astrophysicist Dr Alan Duffy to visit his school and speak to students on Monday about the wonders of the universe.
About 50 students attended the lunchtime lecture.
Dr Alan Duffy visted Camberwell Grammar as part of National Science Week. Picture: Brendan Francis
In the near future Henry hopes to create a joint space generation program with neighbouring schools to further grow the AYSS.
“The whole point of inviting these schools to be part of AYSS is to create a massive network and help them promote space in their own school,” he said.
“After all, I can’t do everything — I’ll try though.”
Henry also runs the @ausyouthspace Instagram page which has over 12,000 followers, and has caught the attention of space industry bigwigs including the Kennedy Space Centre, Space.com, Melbourne Space Program, Singapore Space and Technology Association and the International Space University.
“It’s been a long process — it took me eight months but I’ve enjoyed every moment of it … my followers make me really happy because I know that these people all share the same passion and love for space as I do.”
For more information on the Australian Youth Space Society and how to get involved visit facebook.com/ausyouthspace
Click here to read the full article online. Published in the Herald Sun by Paddy Naughtin on 18 August 2016.