Allow us to introduce one of Australia's brightest stars, Meganne Christian—our nation's first female astronaut. Her journey is one of courage, dedication, and a touch of Aussie grit that proves not even the sky is the limit.
Meganne Christian is a materials scientist at the Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems at the National Research Council of Italy. In November 2022, she became the first Australian woman to become a member of the European Space Agency astronaut reserve—a truly incredible accomplishment! Meganne's journey towards becoming an astronaut was no easy feat—in fact, she was selected as one of only 17 candidates from a pool of over 22,500 applicants.
Meganne had a passion for science from an early age. She explains, “As a kid, I thought being an astronaut was the coolest job in the world. But growing up in Australia at that time I didn’t see any opportunity for it to really happen.”
She went on to complete a Bachelor of Engineering in industrial chemistry at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, where she built a foundation of knowledge that would pave the way for a bright future. Meganne then pursued a doctorate in Industrial Chemistry at the same university, winning several scholarships such as the University of New South Wales Research Excellence Award. A shining star from the beginning, Meganne received several national awards for outstanding research in the field of engineering and industrial chemistry.
After university, Meganne's journey to the stars edged closer. Since 2014, Meganne has been involved in the European Graphene Flagship, which is a European Union scientific research initiative. She then participated in two parabolic flight campaigns, which simulate the adjusted gravity experience of flying in space. During these campaigns, she tested materials for thermal management in satellites. She has also undertaken two missions, including a winter-over to Concordia Station in Antarctica where she was a research scientist in charge of atmospheric physics and meteorology.
Meganne’s love for scientific research and determination to achieve her goals led to her ultimate accomplishment—and in November 2022, Meganne officially became an astronaut as a member of the European Space Agency astronaut reserve.
Reflecting on Meganne’s achievements, the Head of Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, says, “The potential of Dr Christian’s achievement to inspire the next generation of young Australians through science and exploration is immense.”
“We often refer to space as the gateway to STEM because of its ability to ignite curiosity – and what does that more than knowing someone who grew up right here in Australia might one day end up in space.
Meganne’s journey is a testament to the fact that with the right skills, determination, and persistence, anything is possible. She continues to inspire young girls and women to pursue their dreams—proving that even the sky isn’t the limit.