Two sixth-form students will attend this year’s United Space School in Houston, Texas, after winning scholarships.
Each year ManSat sponsors students to attend the Space School and this year’s recipients are Daniel Comley from Ramsey Grammar School and David Sargent from Queen Elizabeth II High School.
The year 12 students won an essay competition and follow in the footsteps of previous ManSat scholars going back to the first in 2000, Dr Jennifer Stone, who is now ManSat’s chief technical officer.
This year’s Space School runs from July 16 to July 31 and joining Daniel and David in Houston will be Ciara Sowerby, who won a Space School scholarship in 2017, and returns this year as one of the mentors.
The Space School is organised by the Foundation of International Space Education and Daniel and David will work with peers from around 20 countries worldwide to plan a simulated crewed mission to Mars, supported by NASA astronauts, engineers and scientists.
To help them prepare, Daniel and David have completed assignments set by the Space School, which involve solving problems covering all aspects of space flight, including habitat design, sustainability, legal issues, budgeting, and orbital mechanics.
Daniel is studying maths, biology, and economics at A-level and wants to study economics at university.
He said: “I’m most looking forward to meeting the other students who are attending. I'm excited by the opportunity to travel to Houston, but it is the other people that I think I will find most fascinating. The opportunity to exchange ideas, viewpoints, and goals, plus working to complete our mission to Mars together - I can't wait. I’d like to thank ManSat for this fantastic opportunity.
“I have been reading books such as Neil Armstrong's biography, First Man, and watching movies suggested by the Space School. My favourite is Hidden Figures, as it highlights the incredible mathematical minds behind NASA's early success.”
David is studying maths, further maths, physics, and computer science at A-level and wants to study astrophysics at university.
He said: 'I am looking forward to the trip as getting to see behind the scenes at NASA is a dream for me. To prepare I have been reading the Red Mars book series by Kim Stanley Robinson. The scholarships are a brilliant initiative from ManSat, and I can’t wait to get to Houston.'
Ciara is ‘thrilled’ to have been asked to return six years after attending as a student.
She said: 'I can’t wait to go back and help inspire the next generation of Space Schoolers to follow their dreams in STEM or similar. Space School genuinely changed my life – I went from not being sure what I wanted to study at university to being certain that I wanted to study astrophysics, which is what I did!
'I am looking forward to seeing my old host family who are hosting students again this year and getting stuck into the cultural exchanges that we get to experience. I’d like to thank ManSat for providing me with the opportunity to return as a mentor.'
Dr Stone said: 'This is a wonderful opportunity for Daniel and David to learn from some of the best minds working at NASA and make lifelong friends. We’re also delighted that Ciara has been invited to return. They will be great ambassadors for the Island, and we are excited to see what they all achieve in Houston.’
The scholarships are awarded by the ManSat Group in cooperation with the Department of Education, Sport and Culture (DESC).
Dr Stone said: 'The continued support shown by the Department, alongside the Island’s secondary schools and King William’s College, is essential to the ongoing success of the scholarship competition and ensuring such a high standard of entries each year.'
Julie Edge, Minister for Education, Sport and Culture, said: “'Meeting last year’s scholarship winners on their return from Houston was a highlight of my first year as minister and I am eager to see how Daniel and David do this year, and to hear about Ciara’s experiences returning as a mentor, which will allow her to pass on the knowledge she gained six years ago. As always, our thanks to ManSat for providing such wonderful opportunities for our island students.'