British-born NASA astronaut Michael Foale has joined 200 young people at the launch of a unique space school being held in Paisley from 6-10 June.
Mission Discovery Renfrewshire brings together school pupils from Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Inverclyde, student mentors from UWS, and a panel of space experts in a week-long educational programme.
The programme, run by International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET), gives young people the chance to learn from NASA’s approach to developing leadership, team building and personal development, as well as fostering interest in science and research.
Teams of pupils also work with the panel of space experts to design an experiment with the winning concept being launched into space and conducted by astronauts living on the International Space Station.
This year’s panel of experts includes Michael Foale, 58, who will be sharing the insights and experience gained during 375 days of space flight.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “Mission Discovery provides a unique combination of learning, skills and experience which benefits the young people taking part.
“Previous events have been an outstanding success and everyone involved is building to build upon that track record of achievement. They also learn at first hand of outstanding achievements which will hopefully inspire them in their own future lives and careers.
“The whole community will also get the chance to learn more about space and exploration through the inaugural Paisley Space & Sci-Fi Film Festival which features some exciting involvement and discussion with NASA astronauts.”
During the week of Mission Discovery, Paisley Arts Centre will host the Paisley Space & Sci-Fi Film Festival. Several evening events include, on 8 June, a screening of the documentary, The Last Man On The Moon, where the featured astronaut, Gene Cernan, 82, will conduct a live Q and A session by video link.
Michael Foale will personally conduct a Q and A session on the evening of 9 June. Full details of the festival are available at www.paisley2021.co.uk
This year’s Mission Discovery is the third staging in Renfrewshire and the first time it has been held at the University of the West of Scotland.
Professor Craig Mahoney, UWS Principal & Vice-Chancellor, said: “Mission Discovery is one of the most innovative programmes we’ve ever been involved with at UWS and we are delighted be supporting the project for the third year running. I am also particularly pleased that our Paisley Campus is the host venue for this year’s event and look forward to seeing the range of activities that take place during the event.
“The Mission Discovery project is an exciting project and something in which UWS is very keen to be involved, as part of its outreach programme. It is vital that as a university we promote and nurture the development of science, engineering, technology and mathematics capability in students and being involved in projects such as Mission Discovery goes a long way towards helping us achieve our goal of developing and encouraging the best talent in these areas.
“It also presents a great opportunity for a number of undergraduates to assist with the week-long programme, which will offer them invaluable experience. The project is creating a great deal of excitement on campus and amongst the teams, given that one of the successful groups will get to send their experiment into space – something that will have a long-term impact. I wish everyone luck and an enjoyable week.”