Aussie space­man a must-see

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television Free To Air - In Con­ver­sa­tion with Alex Mal­ley,

This might not be the most rev­o­lu­tion­ary TV for­mat: seated in­ter­viewer fac­ing seated in­ter­vie­wee. Read­ers, par­tic­u­larly of the busi­ness pages, will have their views about the host Alex Mal­ley. (Mine are that he does a solid job here.)

But there can be no de­bate that an in­ter­view with Andy Thomas, the only Aus­tralian-born pro­fes­sional as­tro­naut, is any­thing other than un­miss­able TV.

Here Thomas dis­cusses his life’s jour­ney from Ade­laide to NASA, ul­ti­mately log­ging 177 days in space in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But he also weighs in on the hottest top­ics in space ex­plo­ration with the unique au­thor­ity of 22 years at NASA.

On the so-called new space race, he says: “I think the fu­ture will be de­ter­mined largely by peo­ple like Elon Musk and Jeff Be­zos, not so much Richard Bran­son, his tech­nol­ogy is very lim­ited … it will be peo­ple with deep pock­ets who drive the agenda and use the re­sources of agen­cies like NASA and the Euro­pean Space Agency to build a com­mer­cial en­ter­prise.”

On a hu­man mis­sion to Mars: “For get­ting to Mars there’s a lot of tech­ni­cal chal­lenges … but if you be­lieve Musk, and there’s no rea­son to doubt him, ul­ti­mately to get peo­ple on to the sur­face of Mars … we may see that hap­pen in the 2030s.”

And on our treat­ment of our home planet, a topic re­marked upon by many who have seen it from or­bit, he says: “The most im­por­tant thing that I ob­served about the Earth was, good lord, we’re mak­ing a mess of it.

“It leaves you with a feel­ing that this is the only planet we’ve got and we need to take bet­ter care of it, be­cause what is be­ing done is in­cred­i­bly dan­ger­ous.” Don’t miss it. 10am, Nine. (QLD, 9am.) Sun­day,

As­tro­naut Andy Thomas traces his ca­reer and dis­cusses the big­ger is­sues

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