Courses at Ayrshire College

Astronaut hero holds Ayrshire meet and greet

Astronaut hero holds Ayrshire meet and greet

Hundreds of Ayrshire residents flocked to Ayrshire College on Wednesday 21 June to hear the most experienced British-born astronaut, Michael Foale CBE, talk about his journeys into space.

The ‘Meet the Astronaut’ night was held at the College’s Kilmarnock Campus as part of this year’s Mission Discovery Ayrshire programme; delivered by the International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET) to 150 school pupils and college students.

Michael Foale CBE took photographs with hundreds of excited audience members after he spoke about his six Space Shuttle missions and his time on both the Russian Mir and International Space Station (ISS).

Over 300 Ayrshire residents looked on in amazement as Michael talked them through an accident that occurred during his time on the Mir Space Station, which involved a cargo ship crashing into it when attempting to dock manually.

Michael also showed the crowd how to have fun in space, by eating floating M&Ms, showing the properties of water in space, and using a drill to rotate himself.

There were plenty of enthusiastic children in the audience who were probing the former NASA astronaut with some difficult questions, such as: “Do you believe in aliens?” and “Are we emotionally, technologically and economically ready to visit Mars?”

Michael encouraged the younger audience members to follow their dreams and not let their head drop when things do not go quite as planned.

He explained that it took him three attempts to become a NASA astronaut, and that he persevered by looking at a photograph of a Space Shuttle on his wall during tough times.

Mission Discovery Ayrshire 2017 is sponsored by the Ayrshire College Foundation, Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport, NATS and the Ayr Rotary Club.

Pupils and students from all over Ayrshire take part in the week-long space educational school. They work in teams to design space experiments, and the winning team will see their idea built and launched to the ISS sometime in 2018.

Last year’s winning idea - looking at the growth of slime mold across various surfaces (rubber/aluminium/velcro/plastic) in microgravity - was launched earlier this month and is already proving to be a successful experiment.

Michael explained to the audience at the ‘Meet the Astronaut’ night that Ayrshire should be extremely proud to have sent an experiment to the ISS as a result of the Mission Discovery programme.

Michael said “What I was most impressed about last night was the community participation.

“The kids asked me great questions and the parents were equally involved in the enthusiasm of their kids. That tells me that here in Ayrshire, of the parents and kids I’ve seen, there’s no risk to their future compared to other communities. They are so engaged with each other - the parents and the kids - and interested in developing STEM. I think their future is well assured.”

26 June 2017

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