NASA has announced its newest recruit this morning. Rodney the koala will join the ISS team on 1st April 2012. Rodney is following three former Australian astronauts Philip K. Chapman, Paul Scully-Power and Andy Thomas and will be the first Queensland member in space.
“NASA is always looking for innovative ways to improve living in space and of course we are looking to secure our future by settling on other planets,” says a NASA spokesperson.
“The koala has been listed as a threatened species in the United States since 2000. Sadly the Australian Government still hasn’t decided how and if to protect their national icon. We Americans think it is time to act.”
NASA scientists have been growing eucalyptus trees under similar conditions faced on planets that are most likely to be populated in the future. Rodney´s mission will be to find out how good the new planted trees are for his wild cousins.
“Rodney is the perfect koala astronaut and NASA will make sure that he enjoys his trip. We have worked closely with the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) to find the right koala and can assure everyone that Rodney is in perfect shape after attending our space camp.”
Deborah Tabart OAM, CEO of the Australian Koala Foundation is thrilled about Rodney´s journey.
“The AKF is more than happy to collaborate with NASA. This is the right step towards a new and hopefully more sustainable future for our koalas. This program gives me hope that our beloved koalas can survive. Goodness knows trees are almost impossible to protect on this planet.”
“Rodney is the perfect candidate, even after lengthy tests his vitals remained stable and he loves to sleep for 20 hours a day. We feel more than confident that he is the right koala for the job and will help to save his fellow brothers and sisters’ future.”