Ayrshire public meet NASA astronaut

Ayrshire public meet NASA astronaut

Ayrshire College hosted a special ‘Meet the Astronaut’ evening for 250 Ayrshire residents at its Ayr Campus on Wednesday 13 June, as part of the Mission Discovery Ayrshire 2018 programme.

Mission Discovery is a week-long space school delivered by the International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET) to 200 secondary school pupils. This is the third year the programme has taken place at Ayrshire College, thanks to sponsorship from the Ayrshire College Foundation as well as NATS, the Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport, East Ayrshire Council, North Ayrshire Council and South Ayrshire Council.

This year, NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen - who has been on three spaceflights - was involved in the Ayrshire programme for the first time.

Free tickets for the event were snapped up in less than an hour when they were released last month.

Audience members heard Stephen talk about his three Space Shuttle missions to the International Space Station, in 2008, 2010 and 2011. There was also the opportunity to ask questions and get photographs with the astronaut.

All week Stephen has been helping Mission Discovery Ayrshire teams design their space experiments, with the winning idea set to launch to the International Space Station later this year, where it will be tested by astronauts.

During the event Stephen had the pleasure of meeting some of the primary school classes involved in the Mission Discovery Ayrshire 2018 Mission Patch competition.

Eight-year-old Eilidh Cooke of Annanhill Primary School won with her half-Mars, half-Earth design, which was used throughout the week and which will accompany the winning experiment on its journey to the International Space Station. Caitie MacArthur, 11, of Whiting Bay Primary School, and Heather McRonald, 11, of Alloway Primary School were runners-up.

Eilidh and Heather, along with their classmates, were able to come along to the Kilmarnock Campus on Wednesday 13 June to meet the astronaut and put their probing questions to him.

NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen said “We don't often have the opportunity to speak to a broader community, we tend to focus on individual groups, so when you get the chance to speak to the community you get the 2 year olds, you get the 89 year olds, it's exciting to try to cover the broad perspective and meet the questions that you get from each potential group.

“It's really exciting to see a full audience as well. The College has done a good job of promoting it within the community, and hopefully as the years go on we'll be able to reach out to more members of the community."

22 June 2018

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