Three students from the Isle of Man were challenged to plan a mission to an asteroid as part of this summer’s Virtual Global Space School.
David Cowin, Anna Cregeen and Winona Reese Dalugdugan won scholarships from the ManSat Group to take part in this year’s Space School, which is run by the Foundation for International Space Education (FISE).
On Monday, September 20th, the students were presented with certificates marking their achievement by Education Minister Dr Alex Allinson.
ManSat has been awarding the scholarships for 21 years, and recipients would normally spend two weeks at the Space School in Houston, USA, working alongside peers from more than 20 countries, with support from NASA astronauts, engineers and scientists. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has meant the event has had to be held online for the last two years.
The scholarships are awarded in cooperation with the Department of Education, Sport and Culture, with the first recipient, in 2000, being Dr Jennifer Stone, who is now Chief Technical Officer for ManSat.
Ramsey Grammar School student Winona is studying maths, physics, chemistry, and music at A-level.
She said: “I can thoroughly say that my experience at the Global Space School was incredible. I had no idea what to expect due to it being online but I have met people across the world who I hope I can see in the future. I have learnt so much about space; the aspects involved in the mission such as space law, mining equipment and radiation.
“One of the many highlights of the experience was being able to talk to astronaut Chris Hadfield, who gave me some great advice and I got to hear first-hand how far space can really take you.
“I was most surprised how well my team worked together as we had never met each other and had to overcome language barriers. However, I am keeping in contact with them to this day and the game nights we had were some of my favourite moments from the Space School. I got voted ‘most valuable player’ in my group but in my eyes my entire team were all MVPs.
“The experience has made me consider careers involving space and in the future I hope to work in the aerospace sector and consider going into a major space agency. I would recommend this experience to anyone; thank you to ManSat for providing us with this amazing experience and to everyone involved with GSS for creating an eye-opening event.”
St Ninian’s High School student David is studying maths, physics, computer science, and economics at A-level.
‘The entire GSS journey was truly incredible,” said David. “Having the opportunity to work together with likeminded people and solve complex problems, especially when they apply to something as interesting as a mission to an asteroid, was amazing beyond belief; and that's without touching on the guest speakers!
“Being able to talk to people who are experts in their fields about their experiences and hearing their insights into the industries they specialise in really was a once in a lifetime experience – I mean, when else would you be able to get talks from nuclear scientists, propulsion engineers, space law experts and even fully fledged astronauts all in the space of two weeks!
“I'd like to say a massive thanks to ManSat for providing this opportunity and allowing the huge development of my skills and character which this program facilitated.”
Anna attends King William’s College, where she studies biology, chemistry and maths at higher level, and geography, Latin, and English literature at standard level as part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma.
Anna said: “Participating in the GSS was an incredible experience. It made me think about the practicalities of space travel, such as the benefits of mining and supplying water from space rather than bringing it from Earth. I really enjoyed talking with specialists from different branches of science and seeing how different people and skills can contribute to the project.
“A highlight for me would be the Q&A session with Chris Hadfield; it was amazing to listen to his experiences and enthusiasm for space. Along with the interviews, one of the best parts of the experience was the interactions between the students.
“Through my group I made friends with some amazing people from South America who I still talk to, but I also connected with people outside of my group through daily breakout rooms and activities. Thank you, ManSat, for such an unbelievable and once in a lifetime opportunity!”
Rachel Beattie, Chief Financial Officer at ManSat, said: “The continuing global challenge of Covid-19 once again meant the Space School could not go ahead in Houston. However, everyone at FISE and the Space School have done a wonderful job in delivering a superb two weeks that the students will never forget.
“David, Anna and Winona were fine ambassadors for the Island and a credit to their families and schools. Our thanks go to the DESC, the Island’s secondary schools and King William’s College for their continued support of our scholarships – we are already planning for 2022, so if you are in Year 12 or Year 13 and interested in taking part next summer, speak to your teachers and watch this space!”
Dr Allinson said: “What an incredible opportunity the Space School provides to our scholars each year, and we thank ManSat for its continued commitment to this superb initiative. David, Anna and Winona may not have had the opportunity to travel to Houston, but they have many great memories to look back on, and new friendships around the world to nurture in future years.”