Published on: Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Recently, the 'Newts’ (members of our Newt Scientist Hobby) were treated to the most wonderful and exciting opportunity. Our Head of Science, Mrs Cole, arranged for the children to have a live ‘spacechat’ from San Francisco with astronaut Ron Rosano.
Ron flew into space in October 2023, is a NASA Solar System Ambassador and works with Galactic Unite to harness the power of space to inspire and support young people to follow a STEM-based education. His mission is to encourage young people who may never have thought about space travel before to dream big - ‘One of the best messages we can give students is to encourage them to have very very big dreams and be prepared to work hard and achieve them' (Ron Rosano, Virgin Unite website).
Fellow space tourism expert Rose Hicks also joined us in the lab, and we are very grateful to her for helping us arrange this very special event. Ron is an expert in all things space travel and was able to answer the children’s excellent questions with huge enthusiasm. We were able to learn all about the application process to travel as a space tourist with Virgin Galactic. The training is hugely important and includes getting fit as well as flights in acrobatic planes beforehand to get the passengers used to the huge forces experienced. The children were keen to know how it feels to experience going up in the rocket, and we imagined being pressed hard back in the safety seats due to the enormous forces we would feel.
Ron told us how he felt a sudden calm once zero gravity was reached and how amazing it was to float around inside the rocket. He said that most passengers say their life is changed forever as they experience looking at Earth, marvelling at the beauty of the curvature and the feeling of peace. Sometimes, the Moon is easily visible, too. The cost of a ticket is high, but Ron explained that as fellow scientists if we could come up with a relevant space research project, we could travel for free! This has really got some of the pupils thinking and several of them now feel inspired to find out more about space travel and becoming an astronaut.
Albert, in Year 3, said, ‘Talking to astronauts from the Virgin Galactic was the best day of my life. It was truly magical. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and our school was so lucky. I’ve asked my Mummy to save up for a ticket for me to travel on the Virgin Galactic, and I really want to be an astronaut when I grow up. I can’t tell you how much I truly love science!! ‘
The highlight was receiving a fabric badge, which nobody else in the world has apart from us! They were meant to be used for passengers on a spaceflight, but the flight had to be withdrawn for safety reasons.