Over 90 local school pupils gathered at QinetiQ in Farnborough on Tuesday, 15 December to cheer on British astronaut Tim Peake, as he blasted off towards the International Space Station (ISS).
The young space enthusiasts watched Tim begin his journey live on the big screen, with QinetiQ's experts on hand to provide commentary and answer questions about the launch. They then took a tour of QinetiQ's space laboratories, where technology such as the ion thruster is developed and tested.
Finally, they competed in a bottle rocket building challenge, with prizes awarded for appearance, performance, design, and teamwork.
Tim, the first British citizen to be selected as an astronaut by the European Space Agency (ESA), is using his ' Principia ' mission to inspire the next generation of space scientists. He is encouraging young people to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to ensure a promising future for the UK's space sector.
QinetiQ graduates in Farnborough have been supporting Tim's mission by creating experiments for him to conduct on the ISS, as part of the Raspberry Pi Foundation's ' Astro Pi ' initiative. The graduates are building and testing a space-ready audio-visual cable to send to the ISS, and have created coding that will enable photos, video and data to be sent to Earth from the space station.
Rachael McAlister, graduate at QinetiQ, said: "Tim is an inspiration to any young person in the UK who dreams of being an astronaut, showing that it really is possible. However, the Principia mission also shows that you don't have to be an astronaut to enjoy a career in the UK space industry. Scientists, engineers and programmers on the ground have vital roles to play, and STEM-based career programmes such as apprenticeships and graduate schemes are opening more doors than ever. It would be amazing if this launch event turned out to be the first step towards a space career for some of our visitors."
In 2005, Tim graduated from the Empire Test Pilots' School in Salisbury, operated by QinetiQ on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. During his studies he was awarded the Westland's Trophy for best rotary wing student.
QinetiQ is a founding member of The 5% Club , an industry-led initiative to tackle youth unemployment. Each member is committed to ensuring at least 5% of employees are apprentices, graduates or sponsored students.
Notes for Editors:
St James Primary School, Elstead, Surrey
Four Marks CE Primary School, Hampshire
Medway Towns Gurdwara Punjabi School, Kent
Westfields Junior School, Hampshire
Farnborough Hill School, Hampshire
Priory School, Hampshire
Calthorpe Park School, Hampshire
All Hallows Catholic School and Sixth Form College, Surrey
Yateley School, Hampshire
Bohunt School, Hampshire
Potters Gate CofE Primary School, Surrey
South Camberley Primary and Nursery School, Surrey
A FTSE250 company, QinetiQ uses its world class knowledge, research and innovation to provide high-end technical expertise and advice, to customers in the global aerospace, defence and security markets. QinetiQ's unique position enables it to be a trusted partner to government organisations, predominantly in the UK and the US, including defence departments as well as other international customers in targeted sectors.