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An Isle of Man First in Space 8 March 2011

A piece of Tynwald Hill, the ceremonial home of the Isle of Man Parliament, Tynwald, is currently flying in Earth Orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, presently docked to the International Space Station.

The piece of Tynwald Hill was personally provided by the President of Tynwald, the Hon Noel Cringle OBE, to Astronaut Nicole Stott to carry to space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-133 to the International Space Station. Nicole Stott is married to Manxman Chris Stott who is the Isle of Man Government’s Honorary Representative to the Space Community.

On her last mission to space in 2009, Nicole flew the Isle of Man flag and spoke live with some of the Isle of Man’s students via video, a first for the British Isles. Given her great love and passion for the Isle of Man, on this, her second mission to space, Nicole wished to fly something of great meaning to the Manx people.

The idea to fly a piece of Tynwald Hill came from Manxwoman Julia Cregeen. Given that Tynwald Hill is composed of soil from each of the 17 parishes in the Isle of Man, in effect this one piece represents the entire Island. It is especially significant given Tynwald’s place in history as the oldest continuous parliament in the world, meeting since 979 AD.

Every July, Tynwald meets on Tynwald Hill in St John’s village instead of its usual meeting place within the Legislative Buildings in the Island’s capital, Douglas.

Given its national and historic importance, special permission to take a piece of Tynwald Hill was granted by the Isle of Man’s Minister for Infrastructure, Hon Phil Gawne MHK, working with President Noel Cringle.

This special piece of Tynwald Hill will be returned to the Manx Parliament upon the Space Shuttle Discovery’s return to Earth.

President of Tynwald, Hon Noel Cringle OBE, said: “Only a few short years ago it would have been inconceivable to consider a linkage to space travel and the Isle of Man. Nicole is a marvellous ambassador for our Island and it is with wonderment and pride that I recognise she has at her feet in space a unique piece of our Island’s history.”

Chief Minister, Hon Tony Brown MHK said: “It is wonderful to think that part of Tynwald Hill, symbolising the national identity of the Isle of Man and our proud heritage of independent democracy, has gone on a journey into outer space. This is a great idea which highlights the Island’s contribution to the space industry and its unique combination of historic tradition and modern innovation.”

Minister for Economic Development, Hon Allan Bell MHK said: “The Island’s growing space industry has given a real boost to the Island’s profile internationally and the goodwill of Chris and Nicole Stott has certainly played a major role in this process.”

Political Member with responsibility for the Space sector in the Isle of Man, Alex Downie OBE, added: “This gesture typifies how far the Isle of Man has progressed in the space sector in the last few years. We punch well above our weight and are now one of the leading jurisdictions operating in the business of space.”

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