Aussie spaceman a must-see
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