A trip into space can be yours for $250,000 USD. It may sound a little science fiction, but it’s soon to become science fact. Over 700 astronauts have already booked their place on board Virgin’s next project: Virgin Galactic – furthering the space frontier. Once you’re confirmed you become one of the selected few to visit Necker Island with Sir Richard Branson, that’s after you’ve completed g-force training. You could be treated with one of the select few – normal, everyday people to go into space. In 2023, the Mars One mission will send its first ever manned spacecraft along the 8 month journey to the Red Planet – 4 normal people from four separate continents out of more than 200,000 first time applicants. They’ll leave Earth without the promise of a return ticket – quite literally travelling into the unknown.
I’ve been doing a Gold CREST Award communicating space and space travel to predominantly teenagers. This led to Space Week that started on the 30th June. I began Space Week by organising three talks from Professor Carolin Crawford, who is a Professor of Astronomy at Gresham College in London. In 2009 her outstanding science communication abilities were recognised when she received the “Women of Outstanding Achievement Award” by the UK Resource Centre for women in science. She spoke to a year 8, 10 and 12 group on Saturn, The Red Planet – Mars and the Age of the Universe.
I also taught two year 7 lessons covering the history and future of space travel – the impact it will have on your lives and your children’s. They started learning about the space race, where I had them making straw rockets – which I think they found great fun!! On the second lesson they learnt about the present of space travel; even designing a meal for British astronaut Tim Peake to eat on board the ISS (The international Space Station). We then talked about the prospects of life on Mars and the Mars one mission – aiming to put a human colony on Mars. By the end of the lesson I convinced about half of the group that they would want to live on Mars – although the prospect of free Wi-Fi was a huge incentive!
Throughout the week I ran a competition to design an astronaut’s suit fit for life on Mars. All the entries that I received were amazing – creative and extremely well researched. Congratulations to the winner, who had a portable drinks machine attached to her astronauts suit and radars to receive warnings from Earth!
To end the week I released an eBook; “Science Bites: A Short Tour of the Universe” for £1.51. All the proceeds are going to Keech Hospices. I’ve sold around 130 copies so far so please download it and leave feedback! Overall I think it was a great week, hopefully I’ve managed to convince a couple of people to change their mind about science and get them interested in space travel.