An Evening of Astronaut Stories

Co-presented with the Sydney Section, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies at the University of Sydney


Astro Stories Australia logo

As this event has reached capacity, registrations are now closed, and we do not have a waiting list. We often have spare seats on the night due to late cancellations. If you could not register and would like to attend, you are welcome to join a stand-by queue at the venue.

From space, national boundaries vanish. The conflicts that divide people become less important, and the wonder of our 'pale blue dot', and the greater universe increases.

Astronaut Stories Australia is a keynote series of events run by the AIAA to bring the stories, passion and inspiration of the world's astronauts to life. The event aims to increase public interest in space-based activities, to inform the public of the value of science and technology, and to motivate support to explore the boundaries of our knowledge.

Join us to hear their stories of their time in space and ask your questions to our astronaut panel.


Dr Sandra H. “Sandy” Magnus

Dr Sandra H. “Sandy” Magnus is the Executive Director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the world’s largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession.

Selected to the NASA Astronaut Corps in April, 1996, Dr Magnus flew in space on the STS-112 shuttle mission in 2002, and on the final shuttle flight, STS-135, in 2011. In addition, she flew to the International Space Station on STS-126 in November 2008, served as flight engineer and science officer on Expedition 18, and returned home on STS-119 after four and a half months on board. Following her assignment on Station, she served at NASA Headquarters in the exploration Systems Mission Directorate. Her last duty at NASA, after STS-135, was as the deputy chief of the Astronaut Office.

While at NASA, Dr Magnus worked extensively with the international community, including the European Space Agency (ESA) and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA), as well as with Brazil on facility-type payloads. She also spent time in Russia developing and integrating operational products and procedures for the International Space Station.


Col. Pamela Melroy

Selected as an astronaut candidate (pilot) by NASA in December 1994, Colonel Pamela Melroy has logged more than 924 hours (more than 38 days) in space.

During her time as an astronaut, Pam has had numerous roles, including: astronaut support for launch and landing, advanced projects in the Astronaut Office and Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM). She served on the Columbia Reconstruction Team as the lead for the crew module and served as Deputy Project Manager for the Columbia Crew Survival. Survival Investigation Team. In her final position at NASA, she served as Branch Chief for the Orion branch of the Astronaut Office.

Since retiring as an astronaut in 2009, Pam has taken on many interesting roles. First as the Deputy Program Manager, Space Exploration Initiatives with Lockheed Martin. Then, in 2011 Pam joined the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in the Office of Commercial Space Transportation as a senior technical advisor. As of 2013, Pam serves as Deputy Director, Tactical Technology Office, at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).Investigation Team. In her final position at NASA, she served as Branch Chief for the Orion branch of the Astrona


Fred Watson

Fred Watson comes from a long line of Freds, but was the first in his family to become a scientist. Known for pioneering the use of fibre optics in astronomy during the 1980s, he has been an astronomer at the Australian Astronomical Observatory since 1995. Fred is best known for his radio and TV broadcasts, talks, and other outreach programs, which earned him the 2006 Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science. He has written a number of popular astronomy books, and has both a science-themed CD and an award-winning symphony libretto to his name. Fred holds adjunct professorial positions at five Australian universities, and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2010 for his contributions to astronomy and space science. He has an asteroid named after him (5691 Fredwatson), but says that if it hits the Earth, it won't be his fault.