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Science Enrichment – Astronaut Special

By 25 June 2021June 28th, 2021No Comments

Welcome to a special article reporting on our virtual visit from a NASA Astronaut! On the afternoon of Friday 11th June, we were privileged to be joined via Zoom by Colonel Jeremy Hansen, from the Canadian Space Agency. Colonel Hansen was born in January 1976, London, Ontario. He studied Space Science, with a Masters in Physics. His background is as a fighter pilot, and can speak English and French, with a basic knowledge of Russian, all key skills when piloting spacecraft and working with colleagues in the International Space Station. He is currently awaiting a mission assignment, and was able to spare us some time in his busy schedule to talk to our students and answer their questions.


The hour talk started at 14:00 for us (08:00 in Houston, Texas) and we were greeted by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Doucette, from the Canadian Defence Liaison Staff. On our side, our very own Mr. Ormsby greeted our guests in both English and French. Colonel Hansen then took us on a visual tour of his background, training and hopes for the future, both in terms of his own space exploration journey, as well as the hope that space can bring to humanity in general.


The Colonel took us on an inspirational journey about setting and meeting your goals, an important lesson for our students, whether applied to astronaut training or any other career path. He described the mental and physical demands of 4 years of astronaut training, in particular working underwater for hours in a space suit to simulate the strains of a space walk, but pointed out that we not only need fighter pilots, but a range of different skills, scientific and otherwise, to work effectively as a team in space. For example, one student asked whether you would be able to go into space if you wore glasses, and he was keen to dispel this myth for us. Other interesting questions from our students ranged from the effects of gravity on the body to how to use the toilet in space…


The Colonel concluded by commenting on the importance of the exploration of space, from giving us perspective on the preservation of our precious oasis of life in the universe, to using space technologies, such as global internet systems, to create a globally equal and collaborative society.


Select students from Years 8, 9 and 10 were able to watch the talk live and pose questions to the Colonel. The recording was then shared with all school email addresses.


This was an aspirational experience from our students, and we hope to see Colonel Hansen back at Sharples again in the future!


“I enjoyed the talk very much. It was great to learn all about astronomy and the journey to reach where Jeremy was. It was interesting and by hearing about this career I have taken quite an interest and hopefully I will be able to have a career like this. I was taught the dedication and hard work that is put through training and how he tackles them. I would love to see more guests coming to speak and talking about their life to give us as pupils knowledge of the world.” Imaan Hassan, Year 9 Astronomy Ambassador


Particular thanks to the Science team, and all the Sharples staff who supported this event.


If you have an interest in the space industry, one of the UK’s most rapidly growing sectors, then you may be interested in an Institute of Physics webinar next Wednesday 30th June 18:00-19:30 introducing Cornwall’s spaceport, including Virgin Orbit’s horizontal launch. Click here to register for the event:

There will be a British Sign Language interpreter at this event.


Mr J. Harding – Science Enrichment Coordinator