Three students from the Isle of Man will take part in the second Virtual Global Space School after winning ManSat Group’s annual competition. David Cowin, Anna Cregeen and Winona Reese Dalugdugan will take part in the Space School from July 24 until August 8.
ManSat has sponsored island sixth-form students to travel to Houston since 2000, but because of the Covid pandemic, last year’s event was held online, and this year’s will too, with the students linking up via video.
Jennifer Stone, ManSat’s Chief Technical Officer, said: ‘This virtual gathering should be a wonderful experience for Anna, Winona, and David, and we are sure they will be excellent representatives of the Isle of Man. We are hopeful Space School will be back to its in-person format in Houston for 2022. We expect to announce the details for our 2022 Space School competition this autumn, which will be open to years 12 and 13.’
Anna attends King William’s College, where she studies biology, chemistry and maths at higher level, and geography, Latin, and English literature at standard level as part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma.
She said: ‘I am aiming to study biology after sixth form, so when I heard about the Space School and how we would be planning a mission to Mars, I drew inspiration from The Martian and my interest in how biology links with space exploration. In terms of preparation, we have all been given homework so that we have some basic background knowledge. However, in my own time I have been reading Astrobiology: A Short Introduction by David C. Catling, which looks at what we have learned about the origins of life on Earth and whether there could be life on other planets too.
‘I’m most looking forward to learning more about the role that biology plays in space travel, whether it is looking at how to keep the astronauts healthy or testing for life on other planets. I have already started talking to people from all over the world and would like to thank ManSat for providing me this unique opportunity to broaden my horizons and develop my passion for science.’
Winona is studying maths, physics, chemistry, and music at A-level at Ramsey Grammar School. She is aiming to study engineering at university and is interested in aerospace engineering in particular.
She said: ‘I am excited to work and learn on what it takes to plan a crewed mission to Mars, I think it will be interesting learning how the spacecraft are able to go to Mars; as I am quite interested in flight. Even though it is online I still think it will be completely worthwhile. I have already learnt so much with the assignments which have been on exploration, travel, habitats, mining, manufacturing, and transport. During the two weeks I will hopefully learn much more. It will be exciting to meet new people and work together to complete the mission. I am extremely grateful to ManSat for the sponsorship for this unique opportunity, because it is not as if you can say that you can talk to industry experts and astronauts every day!’
St Ninian’s High School student David is studying maths, physics, computer science, and economics at A-level and is interested in a career in either nuclear physics or aerospace engineering.
He said: ‘In preparation for the Space School we have been set several tasks and assignments, each of which have focused on various aspects of a space mission – from the design of a rocket and studying possible destinations, to the legal and financial challenges any mission to space will face. Whilst these have all been brilliant, my personal favourites have been to do with the spacecraft itself, especially its propulsion, as chemical and nuclear physics have always been areas of particular interest to me.
‘Of course, it is disappointing that we won’t have the full Space School experience in Houston, however, the program will still be amazing; not only due to what we will learn, but because of the similar minded people from all over the world that we will meet. I would like to say a massive thank you to ManSat for providing me and many others with this once in a lifetime opportunity.’
The ManSat Group awards the USS scholarships each year in cooperation with the Department of Education, Sport and Culture (DESC).
Dr Stone said: ‘As always, our thanks go to the DESC, the island’s secondary schools, and King William’s College for their continued support of our scholarships, particularly during the last two challenging years.’
Dr Alex Allinson, Minister for Education, Sport and Culture, said: ‘The ongoing difficulties surrounding the worldwide pandemic mean that staging this summer’s Space School online is, of course, the most sensible decision. It’s a shame that Anna, Winona and David will not get to visit Houston in person, but I am sure the experience of taking part virtually will stay with them forever. The Department would like to thank ManSat for the wonderful opportunities they continue to provide the young people of the island.’