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Destination Moon: More missions, more science

Destination Moon: More missions, more science

The theme of this year's National Science Week, 'Destination Moon: More missions, more science', prompts us to revisit an interview with previous VCE Leadership Award winner, Henry Wu, who is on his own mission to carve a path to the stars.

Since receiving a VCE Leadership Award in 2017, Henry Wu's star has continued to rise.

a young man smiling

Henry Wu, founder of ASSO
and VCE Leadership Award winner 2017

In 2017, he he founded the not-for-profit organisation Australian Students' Space Organisation (ASSO). He was then selected as a Forbes Fellow to attend the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston, sharing ideas with some of the world's leading young entrepreneurs and social Fellow, recognising social changers.

To mark National Science Week, we caught up with Henry, who discussed his experience of winning a VCE Leadership Award, his career ambitions and the future potential for human beings to reach the stars.

How do you feel your past experience as a VCE Leadership Award winner has helped you with your current career trajectory?

I am extremely grateful to have been selected as a VCE Leadership Award recipient in 2017. It has given the ASSO public exposure and raised awareness for space. Since then, the recognition has seen me be selected for the Foundation for Young Australians' (FYA) Innovation Nation and Young Social Pioneers Program and be featured in the Herald Sun. It has brought much interest from younger students and has helped the ASSO to recruit team members who have strived to help inspire young Australians in space. It has enabled me to connect with leaders and innovators within the space industry, such as the Australian Space Agency. I have also had the privilege of meeting Dr Megan Clark AC, the Head of the Australian Space Agency, in 2018.

Can you tell us about the ASSO?

We are a youth-led, not-for-profit organisation that provides students in Australia with knowledge on space exploration through enriching activities and events. We inspire students to become future leaders of space exploration and to accelerate the establishment of a vibrant space industry in Australia. Since 2017, more than 340 students have participated in ASSO events and activities.

What degree are you undertaking? What is the next step once you graduate from university?

I am currently a second-year student studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) and a Bachelor of Commerce at Monash University, majoring in aerospace engineering and finance. I am grateful that Monash University offers plenty of opportunities that have enabled me to deepen my understanding and involvement in the space and aerospace sector.

After I finish my undergraduate studies, I would love to work with start-ups in the private space industry, such as Gilmour Space Technologies or Rocket Lab. I am so excited to see how the industry develops in coming years and look forward to being involved. I would also love to the opportunity to undertake a master's degree with the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 2015 you started an Instagram account that today has over 17000 followers and has brought you to the attention of NASA. How has the use of social media helped to further your career in this industry?

Social media has helped me discover various opportunities and kept me updated with the industry developments of the industry. I have been able to follow the updates of the Australian Space Agency and the worldwide space community. It has given me the opportunity to witness many rocket launches, including of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy. It has also helped me discover wonderful programs, such as the Foundation for Young Australians' Young Social Pioneers program and the Forbes Fellows Program, which have enabled me to further my development as a social entrepreneur and my work with the ASSO.

What do you think is the future of human space flight, or space exploration in general?

My belief is that humanity will return back to the Moon and eventually explore Mars. It is extremely exciting to see the development of the NASA Lunar Gateway, which will provide the foundation to extend human presence in deep space. It's electrifying to see the rise of private companies, such as SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, which will make space accessible to the general public through private space flights. I am so excited for the future of human space flight and hope to witness all these things come to life.

National Science Week aims to raise the profile and increase the public understanding and appreciation of science, innovation, engineering and technology, and their role in maintaining and improving our society, economy and environment.