THE race to Mars is on, and one of Albury’s finest students might one day be the one to help Australia set foot on the distant red planet.
Xavier High School’s Jack Woodman is one of just two Australian students to win a trip to the Australian Scholarship Group’s International Space Camp later this year.
The 17-year-old will travel to Alabama to take part in the camp, alongside international delegates who beat out thousands of other applicants.
Having boasted a lifelong interest in all things science, Mr Woodman said he was looking forward to learning more about the history and future of the space race.
“My dad is a science teacher, so growing up I was always interested in space and science,” he said.
“My dream job would be to become an astronaut or work in that field, so when I read about this it ticked all the boxes.
“If I could experience anything at this age, which had to do with my passion, this would be it.”
The science superstar has been no stranger to success, having been a recipient of the prestigious Kwong Lee Dow scholarship through Melbourne University last year.
While the full details about the camp activities are being kept secret to ensure the attendees get a good surprise, Mr Woodman said he still knew of plenty to look forward to.
“There’s some simulations we’ll do that run for several hours that replicate actual missions to Mars and the moon, a zero-gravity simulation, lots of things actual astronauts do,” he said.
“They’ve also got one of the Saturn V rockets they sent to the moon lying down – we actually have dinner underneath that on the first night and I’m really looking forward to that.”
As the race to Mars becomes increasingly competitive, Mr Woodman said he would like to see Australia get involved.
“The space race has completely changed, it’s all commercial now,” he said.
“It used to be the governments of the day, but now it’s companies like Space X and RocketLabs, they’re privately funded and move so quickly.
“We’ve been launching rockets for a long time in Australia, we’ve got the space centre in Canberra which is one of three in the world used by NASA for their deep space program.
“Australia is in a good spot in the world, that’s why New Zealand has started to get involved, I think it would be really great if we got into the race.”
I think it would be really great if Australia got into the space race.