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Space school students honoured at ceremony 16 November 2007

TWO students who boldy went where only a handful have been before were honoured today (Friday) in a ceremony at the Department of Education.

Adam Clucas from St Ninian's High School and William Berry from Ballakermeen High School joined 35 students from 20 countries at the International Space School Foundation on scholarships awarded by ManSat and the Department.

While there they were hosted by Manxman Chris Stott, the head of ManSat, whose astronaut wife Nicole is in training for her first trip into space. During their fortnight at the school, part of NASA's Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, the students helped plan a hypothetical mission to Mars, met astronauts and saw the Saturn 5 rocket.

The Year 12 students - who knew each other from their time as pupils at Onchan Primary School - were selected from high school students who wrote essays on three topics - why they were interested in space, why exploration is important for the future and how the Isle Man can play a role in the burgeoning industry.

ManSat scholarship
ManSat scholarship

It was a red-letter day for Adam, who learned he had been selected for the scholarship two hours after he passed his driving test.

The pair visited St George's Court to tell Minister for Education the Hon Mrs Anne Craine MHK, the heads of ManSat, parents and teachers about their trip and to receive certificates marking their achievement.

Adam, who hopes to go to Cambridge University to study natural sciences, revealed students were 'stretched to the limit' by the tasks put before them at NASA while William, who plans to study Classics at Durham University, said they were 'exhausted'. But both said it was an experience of a lifetime.

The Minister paid tribute to ManSat for offering the scholarships, saying:

'Here we see public and private sector coming together and being put into practice and the benefits that will come of it are untrue.'

She said a past scholarship recipient who followed a related career had been back to St Ninian's to tell pupils about his experiences. He was asked what he did for a living and he replied: 'I measure the universe.'

ManSat has been sending students to the space school since 2000 but it is the first time there have been two scholarship recipients, something ManSat's Finance Director hopes will continue.

He said:

'It really is a pleasure for us to be able to provide students with this window into the space industry by experiencing the work of NASA.'

Entries for the 2008 scholarship are due in by January 14.

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