St Columba’s Pupils Spends ‘Out of This World’ Week at NASA’s Space Centre St Columba’s Pupils Spends ‘Out of This World’ Week at NASA’s Space Centre
Ewan was selected out of 547 original applicants to the Scottish Space School programme earlier this year. Ewan Gray, a Senior VI pupil and... St Columba’s Pupils Spends ‘Out of This World’ Week at NASA’s Space Centre

Ewan was selected out of 547 original applicants to the Scottish Space School programme earlier this year.

Ewan Gray, a Senior VI pupil and Depute Head Boy from St Columba’s School in Kilmacolm, was one of ten students selected by Strathclyde University’s Scottish Space School for a trip to NASA’s Johnson Space Centre.

Depute Head Boy Ewan

In June, 100 Scottish students, including Ewan’s fellow St Columba’s student, Cameron Stark, were chosen from the 547 applicants for a week-long summer programme at Strathclyde University which consisted of a mix of space-themed lectures, labs and workshops and talks from visiting NASA representatives. From these 100 students, 36 were then asked to come to the University for interviews of which 10 students were then chosen to go on the once-in-a-lifetime ‘Learning Journey to Houston’.

A very busy week lay ahead for the ten students with visits to the Wings Over Houston Airshow and Rice University where they heard talks from Dr David Alexander, a Scottish Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and George Abbey, Former Director of the Johnson Space Centre, NASA. A visit to Space Centre Houston was a particular highlight, getting to look at the displays and learning about the history of space flight.

At the Neutral Buoyancy Lab the students were allowed to go beyond the viewing area to watch an astronaut prepare for training poolside. Followed by an exclusive tour around Mission Control and access into the actual Mission Control room to stand beside the men and women controlling the International Space Station. Ewan recalls this incredible moment, “We were so lucky to be able to do this, it’s one of the most amazing and surreal experiences of my life.”

As the week was coming to a close the students were given a talk by the legendary ex-Flight Director, Gene Kranz, and Apollo 13 Lunar Module Pilot, Fred Haise. Both gave inspiring talks about their lives, their experiences at NASA and a first-hand account of the famous Apollo 13 mission. On the last evening all ten students attended a farewell dinner where they were presented with awards from Joel Montalbano, NASA’s Deputy International Space Station Programme Manager.

Ewan said, “I plan to study Aerospace Engineering at university so this week was pretty unforgettable and I am unsure if it will ever be topped.

“I had an incredible time and it was fantastic to be able to share it with the other students.”

Main Image: Ewan, back row, 1st on left

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