NASA astronaut inspires next generation

Jack Neil meeting astronaut Jon McBride
Jack Neil meeting astronaut Jon McBride

PRIESTLEY students met a NASA astronaut at the UK’s largest celebration for young people of science, technology, engineering and maths.Twenty ICT and Computing students attended the Big Bang Fair with some of them taking the opportunity to meet Jon McBride who became an astronaut in 1979.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to speak to an astronaut with his experience,” said ICT Tutor Linda Seymour.

“The students were excited to meet him and have their photographs taken with such a legend in space exploration.”

Among Captain McBride’s NASA assignments were being the lead chase pilot for the maiden voyage of Columbia and pilot of STS 41-G, which launched from the Kennedy Space Center aboard the Orbiter Challenger in 1984.

Three years later he was assigned to NASA’s headquarters and took responsibility for their relations with Congress before retiring in 1989 to pursue a career in business.

His presence added some human interest to an event that boasted some incredible demonstrations of technology.

Staged at the NEC in Birmingham the students encountered futuristic cars, 3D printers and a walking, talking robot.

“We saw some science and technology of the future, which was inspiring for everyone,” said Linda.

“There was also the chance to find out more about careers and the opportunities that are out there.”

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