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How the Young Astronauts Club is inspiring kids to love space

When Jen Malone’s daughter said she wanted to be an astronaut when she grew up, her mum took it upon herself to start the Young Astronauts Club.

Ahead of her session at the AusSpace24 Summit, Malone recalled that she did so because there were few opportunities for young people to learn about space in Far North Queensland, where the family had moved.

“One day, my daughter had her friends over, and they were talking about what they wanted to be when they grow up,” Malone told Space Connect.

“When my daughter said she wanted to be an astronaut and an aeronautical engineer, all her friends said they wanted to do the same. That was the moment they all voiced their big dream. Then, they came up to me and asked if I could help start an astronaut club at school during lunch times.”


Enthused by the idea, Malone proposed establishing the Young Astronauts Club to her daughter’s receptive school principal.

Malone designed a 10-week term-long program in December 2022 during the Christmas holidays.

“I initially thought we’d have around four to eight kids in the group. I didn’t know how long that interest would last. I thought it would taper off after a couple of weeks,” she said.

“But when I got to the school in January 2023, I found out that 65 kids in years four, five, and six had expressed an interest to join the club. I was gobsmacked.”


Malone researched topics, wrote the programs, and delivered them in a classroom offered by one of the teachers.

She kept a question box for the students to ask questions or suggest topics they were interested in, leading to the program’s direction.

“Some kids wanted to know about space suits, so we did a section on that. Others wanted to know if they were going to build a colony on the moon,” Malone said.

She also arranged for guest speakers to visit the club, including Far North Queensland student Toby Fealy (who was one of four young people chosen to attend a two-week space camp at the United States Space Rocket Centre in Huntsville, Alabama, in 2023).

Why start a club?

Malone said she wants to inspire young children to be passionate and confident about space and STEM while collaborating as a team.

“We’re simultaneously teaching them about space and coaching them on a lot of the soft skills that they need for success,” she said.

She was also initially concerned about the lack of opportunities for children in STEM in regional and rural Far North Queensland.

“You can’t just take your kids to the museum or a space centre during the weekend because we don’t have those things up here,” she said.

“But when the kids asked for a Young Astronauts Club, I could see the potential for it to solve a few problems and keep the momentum going to help keep them interested in space. The club has normalised discussions about space and STEM for these kids.”

What the future holds

While the pathways to a space career and becoming an astronaut could change drastically by the time these students reach adulthood, Malone said the program’s goal is to grow the love for space in children.

“I don’t think their jobs in space are written yet. NASA is saying we may have a lunar colony running by then,” she said.

“For now, I want these kids to dream about becoming an astronaut and an aeronautical engineer. It’s important for us to try and help them get there. We’re trying to coach the right attitudes towards learning, encouraging the kids to do their best, and letting them know they can ask for help when they’re at school.”

To hear more from Jen Malone about how she formed the Young Astronauts Club and how it’s inspiring the next generation of kids into space, come along to the Australian Space Summit and Exhibition 2024.

It will be held on 28 and 29 May at ICC Sydney.

Click here to buy your tickets, and don’t miss out!

For more information, including agenda and speakers, click here.

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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