World Space Week

World Space Week is an UN-declared celebration of space held annually, every October 4th to 10th. These dates commemorate two events: October 4th, 1957 was the launch of the first human-made Earth satellite, Sputnik 1, thus opening the way for space exploration. October 10th, 1967 was the signing of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies. The mission of World Space Week Association (WSWA) is to strengthen the link between space and society through public education, participation, and dialogue on the future of space activity using World Space Week as a focus.

This week's Junior assembly was led by our Year 1 teacher Miss Rostron, who began her presentation with some of the beginning key points in Space exploration, such as Sputnik, Neil Armstrong's 1969 moon landing. But then she asked pupils how many women they thought might have ventured into space and our pupils were quite shocked to find out the answer. As of March 2021, only 65 women have flown into space, this number is only around 10% of all the people who have been to space. As this year’s World Space Week celebrates ‘Women in Space’ Miss Rostron’s assembly focused on the great women, who not only have travelled into space, but those whose scientific research and engineering has had huge impacts on humans voyage into the unknown.

On the 12th April 1961, the first human was launched into space, Yuri Gagarin, a 27 year old man from Russia, spent 1 hour and 48 minutes orbiting the Earth in spacecraft Vostok 1. It was only two years later when the first woman followed suit. On the 16th June 1963, 26 year old Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to go to space.

After the successful launch, Valentina’s first words back to earth were:

“It is I, Seagull! Everything is fine. I see the horizon; it's a sky blue with a dark strip. How beautiful the Earth is ... everything is going well.”

She then remained alone in space for 3 days. She is, to this day, the only woman to have ever been on a solo space mission. Later named a ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’, Valentina Tereshkova retired from a successful Air Force career as Major General in 1997.It was almost exactly twenty years later before the USA sent a woman into space; Sally Ride launched into space on 18th June 1983 in the space shuttle, Challenger.

Pupils then learnt all about the first British person to ever travel to space, her name was Helen Sharman. Sharman was selected to undergo 18 months of rigorous training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Russia, still not knowing if she would be able to go into space, Sharman was then chosen for the mission. Launching into space on the 18th May 1991.

“People often describe me as the first British woman in space,

but I was actually the first British person.”

Pupils also learnt about some incredible women who made important contributions to Science.

Dr Katie Bouman, an American Computer Scientist. At 29 years old, she made history in working out how to take a photo of a black hole. This had been impossible up until 2019 because black holes have such a strong pull of gravity that light can’t even escape.

Katherine Coleman Goble was an African American Mathematician. Her research on flight data and her calculations and equations controlled spacecraft from lift-off to splashdown during the 1960s. Her calculations were so accurate that NASA would ask her to double check those of a computer.

Stephanie Wilson, an American NASA Astronaut. Stephanie has a degree in engineering and a Master’s in Aerospace Engineering. She is a branch chief for crew mission support, having been on three missions on a space shuttle.

Shannon Walker, an American NASA Astronaut. Shannon has a degree in physics and a PhD in space physics. She investigates ways of making vitamins and nutrients to make the crew’s diet in space healthier.

In Mr Kinzleman’s Senior assembly, as well as highlighting all of these incredible women, his assembly focused on talking about some of the main space agencies in the world and how pupils might apply to work for those space stations and maybe become astronauts themselves in the future. It was an inspiring assembly, and when asked who thought they had what it takes to be an astronaut many excited arms shot into the air! Our pupils were in awe as they watched live recordings from the International Space Station and witnessed the astronauts maneuvering on the outside of the ISS.

At Terra Nova we are lucky enough to be located directly opposite Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre. Two of our most historic rooms at TN are named the Jodrell Room and the Lovell Room, but why is that?

The Jodrell observatory was established in 1945 by Bernard Lovell, the site was first used for astrophysics, to investigate cosmic rays. It has since played an important role in the research of meteoroids, quasars, pulsars, masers and gravitational lenses, and was heavily involved with the tracking of space probes at the start of the Space Age. Jodrell Bank is primarily used for investigating radio waves from the planets and stars.

Lovell worked in the cosmic ray research team at the University of Manchester. During the Second World War he worked for the Telecommunications Research Establishment developing radar systems to be installed in aircrafts. At the end of the war, Lovell attempted to continue his studies of cosmic rays with an ex-military radar detector unit, but suffered much background interference from the electric trams on Oxford Road in Manchester. Because of this Lovell searched for a remote location away from electrical interference, this is what led him to creating Jodrell Bank. With university funding, Lovell constructed the then-largest steerable radio telescope in the world, which our pupils, parents and staff now drive past daily on their way into school, the Lovell Telescope.

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