In March we had the great pleasure of welcoming Rick Mastracchio to talk to some 360 pupils.
Whenever possible Space Lectures takes their astronaut guests to local schools: to inspire the children as we all have been inspired. On Friday morning Oyster Park Primary School in Castleford rolled out the red carpet for the McCandless’s and they could not have been more welcoming.
During April 2017 retired United States Navy Captain Scott D. Altman joined us and made his first public appearance in the UK.
The world’s first “space twins”, retired US Navy Captain Mark Kelly and former NASA astronaut and retired US Navy Captain Scott Kelly shared a wealth of Shuttle and ISS experiences, and Scott’s most reecent historic one year mission with our very own Tim Peake aboard the ISS.
General Tom Stafford, A pioneering astronaut with an enviable spaceflight record, his NASA days formed just part of an amazing career to which ALL of his contemporaries could only aspire. A veteran of 4 historic space missions, he is also largely responsible for 60% of the current US Air Force strike capability -stealth bombers to F16s, refuelling tankers to Tomahawk missiles.
We first invited Jim Lovell to Pontefract 6 years ago. It finally took a ringing endorsement from Fred Haise and a bit of "googling" by Jim (of Space Lectures) to make it happen.
Eileen Collins was something of a conundrum. The kind of steely eyed test pilot astronaut we have become accustomed to meeting but wrapped up in a persona altogether softer and more approachable that endeared her to everybody.
Born in the deep south, Fred "Pecky" Haise (it's a long story) wears his southern "Good 'ol Boy" persona like a cloak or veneer yet is masks as complex, highly accomplished and successful individual.
When Space Lectures embarked on their quest to bring pioneering astronauts to Pontefract, Charlie Duke was quoted as saying..."You'll never get Ken Mattingly!" Fast forward 9 years and who did we have visiting... the man himself.
Whenever possible Space Lectures takes it's guest speakers to local schools. Wakefield Girls High School was the beneficiary of that policy on this occasion. They made the most of the encounter, affording Alan Bean the kind of reception usually reserved for One Direction.
Al Worden spent his first morning in Pontefract talking to students at Carleton Community High School. Always quick witted with a smile to match Al's breadth of knowledge on so many subjects was as impressive as it was expansive.
Charlie Duke had the honor of being the first speaker at the newly built lecture theatre at Carleton Community High school. The old one burnt down 3 days after Fred Haise visited - have you ever noticed how trouble always seems to follow Freddo?
The venue may not have been ideal. A temporary Carleton Community school building -in truth a glorified hut! Much of the school had burned down 3 years previous and the rebuild was still far from completion.
Modesty and a self-effacing demeanor are essential pre-requisites for Apollo astronaut and Dick Gordon had those in spades couples with a wicked sense of humor.
Edgar Mitchell finally made it to Pontefract... three months late. His flight had been forced back to the US in mid Atlantic 3 months previous following a volcanic eruption in Iceland.
A warm autumnal day finds Apollo Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise in Pontefract, West Yorkshire for the first time. A convivial laid back guy Fred spoke first to TV news reporters before enthralling local school children, signing autographs and regaling them with stories of his adventures.
Coming face to face with one of the ‘History Makers’ of the twentieth century is one of those moments you never forget in your life, and so it was with Buzz Aldrin. You think back to the moment when you were sat as I was with my mum and sister (dad was working), watching those shadowy figures come down the ladder.
Perhaps not as slick a presentation as we are now used, but Carleton Community High School hosted a wonderful evening with Apollo 12 moonwalker Alan Bean. An excellent slide presentation sprinkled with jokes and anecdotes to a packed house.
Jack "Trip" Nickel, a NASA Research Pilot helped train space shuttle commanders and pilots to land the orbiter as it is returned from space.
“I went down to Autographica in Coventry to meet Valentina Tereshkova and Charlie was there. I had thought for some months that it would be good if an Astronaut came to Pontefract. The idea was they could give a free talk to kids at a local school and people of the area could also hear and meet them at a reasonably priced public lecture. I never thought for one moment this would happen but asked Charlie if he was up for it and he gave me his card and said "I will be home on Monday, e-mail me with what you want me to do?"
Alexander Alexandrov, former Soviet cosmonaut, he flew 2 missions Soyuz T-9, Soyuz TM-3 All together he spent 309 days, 18 hours, 2 minutes in space. He was twice awarded the 'Hero Of The Soviet Union' awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.