Three students from Airedale Academy had the chance to meet former NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio at the Space Lectures event held in Pontefract on Saturday 24 March. Rick has flown on three NASA Space Shuttle missions as a mission specialist in addition to serving as a Flight Engineer on the Soyuz TMA-11M on Expedition 38 and 39 for a long duration mission aboard the International Space Station. Rick has spent 227 days in space and has undertaken nine space walks, totalling 53 hours!

Rick gave a fantastic, lively talk about his journey from being an engineer in his early career to working his way up to being an astronaut. He gave a firsthand account of many of the feelings he went through each time they launched,  explaining what it was like to sit on the launch pad inside the Space Shuttle as the engines fired up, and how it felt to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere in the Soyuz; he even went on to describe his trepidation of having to explain how the toilet works on the International Space Station to a live TV audience in the UK. The talk included videos of Rick’s time in space and some of the experiments he conducted, such as fixating E. coli bacteria to test the effectiveness of certain antibiotics, as Rick explained that bacteria are more resistant in space. 

After the talk, there was an opportunity for a Q&A session and all students received signed copies of their tickets and a photo from the night.