There are lots of routes into a career in the space sector. Anu studied A levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry before completing a master's in Physics.

He spent a few years leading Himalayan expeditions and then did a PGCE in secondary science education in his late twenties. This led to 15 years of full-time teaching, including as an Advanced Skills Teacher (AST), Assistant Headteacher and National Lead Practitioner (Physics) for the UK Specialist Schools and Academies Trust. He is now Director of the National Space Academy.

Boards, councils and other roles

National Space Centre: Director
Royal Astronomical Society: Fellow
University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy; Honorary Professor (appointed 2016)
ESA: Human Spaceflight and Exploration Science Advisory Committee (HESAC)(2018-2022)
UK Space Agency: Space Exploration Advisory Committee (2018-2022)
UKRI(United Kingdom Research and Innovation): member of STFC Council (2018-2022)
UAE Space Agency - Global Space Congress Advisory Board (appointed 2019)


OBE for services to science education (2014)
Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) status awarded by Secretary of State for Education (2003)
National Lead Practitioner (Physics) SSAT (2010)
Sir Arthur Clarke Award for Inspiration from UK space sector (2010)

At the office

Anu leads the strategic direction of the National Space Academy and has done since it launched in 2008. He also teaches A level physics on the Space Engineering course at Loughborough College and has led the development and delivery of National and International teacher training and school/undergraduate student programmes for the UK Space Agency, ESA and China National Space Administration (CNSA).

Anu has worked as a consultant for ESA using data from the SOHO orbiting solar observatory and Mars Express mission and has written and presented numerous international teaching films for ESA for European students and teachers.

Appointed in 2016 as an Honorary Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester, Anu is a Co-Investigator for the SPLIT planetary geotechnics sampling tool being developed by the University for use on future Mars exploration missions. He also leads the human spaceflight, exploration and skills development strands in the UK Government's programme of strategic collaboration in space science and technology with China.

Anu's role within various space agency boards and Councils means that we are well connected with space industry professionals across the globe, enabling us to create opportunities for the young people we work with.

Away from the office

Anu enjoys high-altitude expeditions, free-diving and scuba diving and has a deep interest in human performance and physiological science in extreme environments. A current skydiver with over 1300 jumps, Anu was involved as an independent science analyst for the Red Bull Stratos stratospheric jump programme!

"I've been involved in skydiving, scuba- and free-diving and Himalayan exploration for over twenty years. But I still love looking at the night sky and letting my retina intercept photons that have been drifting through the Galaxy for hundreds or thousands of years...observational astronomy still gives me that dreamlike sense of awe and wonder that first seduced me when I was a little kid."

We asked Anu...

Given the chance, would you go to space?

Suborbital/short duration Earth orbital? Absolutely! Future lunar orbit/surface short stay? Yes. Hohmann transfer to and from Mars for over two years? Probably not!

What's the best thing about science?

Science is about trying to understand nature at all scales, from subatomic to the size of the Universe - but just as important is trying to apply that for the betterment of life, society and our collective futures

What's the best thing about working at the National Space Academy?

It's an amazingly diverse and talented team ranging from science education to pure research and with a shared passion for learning new stuff!


More Information

If you have a question for Anu, email us at nsa@spacecentre.co.uk and we'll make sure he gets it!

See Anu's keynote lecture on safety in human spaceflight and the work of the National Space Academy at the Lloyds Register Foundation International Conference October 2016 here.