Astronaut lands at Alnwick school

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Children at an Alnwick school enjoyed an out of this world experience when they had the chance to meet a real astronaut.

NASA’s Susan Kilrain was guest of honour at St Paul’s Catholic Primary School where she spoke about her stellar career, and answered questions from an enthralled audience on everything from space food to her family.

Head teacher, Eileen Lomax, said: “Susan talked to the children about aspiring to achieve their dreams. She told them how she worked for the American Air Force before working for NASA, and stressed that if they work hard at school, they can achieve greatness.

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“All the children were very excited to meet Susan,” she added. “Not many schools can say they have had a 'real' astronaut visit in person!”

Susan Kilrain with St Paul's pupils.Susan Kilrain with St Paul's pupils.
Susan Kilrain with St Paul's pupils.

Commander Kilrain, who now travels the world as a motivational speaker, made a positive impression on her audience at St Paul’s, a member of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust.

Her visit to the school followed a prior virtual meeting, both of which were arranged through a parent.

“A family has recently joined St Paul’s and the father promotes STEM education working across the globe,” explained Mrs Lomax.

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“Year 5 study space as their main topic in Autumn Term, and the father saw this on our curriculum plans and asked if we would like a virtual meet with Susan Kilrain while she was working in Australia.

“But Susan was in Teesside during half term delivering SPACE2101, and was then flying back to the USA so we were lucky to have her in to speak to the children before leaving the country.”

As well as all age groups at St Paul’s, six past pupils who had previously helped with the school’s Science Day were invited to attend,” continued Mrs Lomax.

The former astronaut was part of the Spacelab mission, travelling 6.3 million miles in 251 orbits of the Earth in just one of her trips.

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She was also a former test pilot for the United States Navy and logged more than 3,000 hours in more than 30 different aircraft.

One of the Year 5 children asked Susan if she had ever experienced a scary encounter while in space, and she shared a time when there were technical difficulties with a mission and they had to abort and return to Earth.