Ewan Gray (SVI) and 9 other Scottish sixth year students were selected by Strathclyde University’s Scottish Space School, for a trip to NASA's Johnson Space Centre during the October break.
The students were selected out of 547 original applicants to the Scottish Space School programme earlier this year. In June, 100 Scottish students, including Ewan’s fellow-Columban, 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'.
Ewan recounts his experience of this inspiring trip to Texas:
The week was really busy with visits to the Wings Over Houston Airshow and Rice University where we had talks from Dr David Alexander, a Scottish Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Rice University, and George Abbey, Former Director of Johnson Space Centre, NASA.
On the Tuesday we visited 'Space Centre Houston' getting to look around all the displays and learning about the history of space flight.
The next day we visited the Neutral Buoyancy Lab (the massive swimming pool in the pictures attached). Incredibly, we were then allowed to go beyond the viewing area to watch an astronaut prepare for training poolside - which the general public is not allowed to see up close. We were the given an exclusive tour around Mission Control and access to go into the actual Mission Control room and stand beside the men and women controlling the International Space Station - we were so lucky to be able to do this and it’s one of the most amazing and surreal moments of my life.
On the Thursday we were given a talk by the legendary ex-Flight Director, Gene Kranz and Apollo 13 Lunar Module Pilot, Fred Haise! Both guys gave some inspiring talks about their lives, their experiences at NASA and a first-hand account of the famous Apollo 13 mission.
On the last evening the 10 of us attended a farewell dinner where we were presented awards from Joel Montalbano, NASA’s Deputy International Space Station Programme Manager.
The 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 9 other students.