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MSA Member Heads to the Snowy as Australia Day Ambassador

22 January, 2008

Twenty-four year old aerospace engineer Michael West is heading to Jindabyne and the surrounding areas this week as the Snowy River region�s Australia Day Ambassador for 2008. Thanks to the generous support of Woolworths, Michael will join more than 160 high achieving Australians who will be giving up their time to share their experiences and their national pride with communities across New South Wales on 26 January this year.

Michael was a NSW finalist in the 2006 Young Australian of the Year Awards and is currently undertaking PhD studies at the Australian National University in Canberra. Originally from Sydney, Michael completed degrees in Aerospace Engineering and Science, majoring in Physics and Geophysics, at the University of Sydney and has been involved in various space projects in Australia.

In 2001, he joined a team of Australian researchers and NASA experts who investigated Mars-like sites in outback Australia where a Mars simulation facility is being established to assist with astronaut training in the future. Michael has designed, constructed and tested two different experiments that have been launched aboard surface to air missiles from the Woomera Rocket Range and worked as an intern in 2005 at the SETI Institute in California.

Michael is currently working on developing next generation plasma propulsion systems for spacecraft and, in particular, the Helicon Double Layer Thruster. Such technology may one day propel human beings to the Moon, Mars and beyond. He has also worked on the Phobos Reconnaissance & International Mars Exploration (PRIME) Mission - a Canadian Space Agency funded concept study for a robotic mission to Mars� innermost moon, Phobos.

2008 is Michael West�s third year as an Australia Day Ambassador and he is looking forward to the opportunity to speak about Australia�s involvement in space engineering endeavours, past, present and future. �Most people aren�t aware that Australia was a key player in the early years of the space era and was the fourth country in the world to launch a satellite from its own territory� explains Mr West. The satellite, called WRESAT, was launched from the Woomera Rocket Range in 1967 and was built in less than a year and orbited the Earth 624 times, an extraordinary achievement for the time.

�The achievements of the scientists and engineers who worked at Woomera are truly remarkable and, just like the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme, are an important symbol of Australia�s identity as an independent and resourceful country. These grand endeavours are why we are known internationally as the ?Clever Country�, but that mantle is slipping. I hope that I can inspire young Australians in particular to consider a career in a science or engineering field and encourage them to help put Australia back up there with the best in the world.� said Mr West.

Mr West will visit the towns of Jindabyne, Berridale, Adaminaby and Dalgetty and participate in the official festivities including delivering the Australia Day Address. �Visiting these communities is a real privilege and a great opportunity to share with other Australians about the many things that we can be proud of as a nation. Australia is a fantastic place to live and we have much to celebrate.� said Mr West.

More details about events occurring on Australia Day are available at Media wishing to speak to Michael West about his experiences as an Australia Day Ambassador can contact him on 0421 062 650.

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