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NASA astronaut to touch down in Wales

Steve on a space walk

Pint of Science and ISSET join forces to bring the International Space Station Commander to speak at Cardiff University

Steve Swanson in space

On top of the world: Dr Steve Swanson on board the International Space Station. Photo Credit: Pint of Science

Dr Steve Swanson’s tour will touch down in Cardiff on 20 November. Formerly a software engineer, Steve will be travelling across the UK to share his experience of life on board the International Space Station.

The tour is organised via a partnership between the International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET) and Pint of Science.

Ross Barber, project manager at ISSET, believes now is the perfect time to launch Steve’s tour. “It’s really important to engage people with the opportunities STEM offers,” he says. “There’s huge growth in the UK space industry, which means there will be more jobs and a stronger interest.”

ISSET run Mission Discovery programmes, giving 14 – 18 year-olds the opportunity to be mentored by NASA leaders. Fifty students are sponsored by Rhondda Cynon Taf council to take part and design an experiment. The winning idea is tested by astronauts at the International Space Station.

“We find the students will start working harder and focus on where they want to go,” Ross says. “The astronauts were in the same position. We use them as a metaphor for the NASA ‘you can do it’ spirit.”

Dr Praveen Paul, director at Pint of Science, says that Steve hopes to “give a first-hand account of what it’s like being an astronaut, and convey how inspiring space can be.”

Praveen and fellow scientist Dr Michael Motskin founded Pint of Science in 2012. By bringing academics to speak at pubs in 35 cities across the UK, Praveen says their mission is to make complex ideas more accessible. Previous events have covered everything from atoms to neuroscience.

“It’s important for scientists to have the opportunity to communicate what we do,” Praveen says. “And it’s a great way for people to be inspired and learn about what’s going on.”

The Astronaut Tour is open to adults and children aged ten and above. Book your tickets here.

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