Celebrating ten years of science education and inspiration using the context of space


 National Space Academy is 10

Since launching in 2008 we've engaged with more than 50,000 students, nearly 6000 teachers and hundreds of industry professionals. We started in Leicester and now deliver all over the UK thanks to our amazing team of Lead Educators and Project Scientists. Not only that, but we've developed our relationships internationally too. We've worked closely with the European Space Agency and UK Space Agency. Education experiments we designed together were conducted on board the International Space Station, and we're working to support space education development in China, the UAE and Malaysia. This is just the beginning!

We wanted to thank everyone who has been involved in our journey so far, and share our exciting plans for the future with new friends.On Thursday 11th October we held an evening celebration at the National Space Centre, complete with a very special birthday cake (thanks Caker Maker!).

10 year celebration cake


Anu Ojha OBE, Director of the National Space Academy, opened the evening after guests had enjoyed some space themed cocktails by the National Space Centre's rocket tower. Anu highlighted that in 2008 we were a team of just five; now we are 37 strong with Lead Educators based all over the country. The future of the space industry lies with the next generation, Anu explained; we help lay the foundations.

Prof. Anu Ojha at celebration dinnerDr Kierann Shah, General Manager of the National Space Academy introduced alumni of our Space Engineering course. As well as instigating a course in Salford, we have been delivering a Space Engineering course with Loughborough College for six years. It was great to hear about what some of the group are doing now.

Dr Kierann Shah


Nigel Grainger travelled through stormy weather to reach us in Leicester. He's currently employed as a Stress Engineer with Airbus, following a Higher Apprenticeship with them which he began after the Space Engineering course.  Nigel spoke about his career path and how the Space Engineering course, and the teachers who ran it, have given him the confidence to get to where he is today.
Nigel Grainger

 Mansi Joshi took to the stage next. Mansi is in her 4th year at the University of Hertfordshire studying Aerospace Engineering. Mansi requested to sit next to David Parker during dinner when she booked her place. Of course, we obliged. We're looking forward to seeing where Mansi's career takes her next.


Mansi JoshiRichard Jones was the last of the Space Engineering alumni to share his experiences. When I called Richard to check in with him about the event a few days before, he hadn't answered. He rang back later, brimming with excitement, having just completed his first flying lesson! Richard is studying Aerospace System Engineering with Pilot Studies. He spoke about the importance of grabbing opportunities to get the most out of life. He also name dropped a few astronauts he's met along his journey so far!

Richard Jones

Our final speaker of the evening joined us following a number of challenging hours at his day job. Dr David Parker is the Director of Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA. The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft had launched earlier that day from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It experienced an anomaly with the booster and the launch ascent was aborted, resulting in a ballistic landing of the spacecraft. American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin were safe thanks to the incredible advances in technology and safety measures over the last decade. Although no European astronauts were on board the spacecraft, Dr David Parker had been at the launch earlier that day. The aborted launch will impact on ESA's human space flight planning. David opened his speech with us by declaring a toast to Nick and Alexey.

Dr David Parker toastHe went on to speak about the current projects at ESA. He noted that educating and inspiring the next generation is paramount to ESA's future successes and highlighted the Astro Academy: Principia project, we did with Tim Peake in 2016. You can watch the film that David played here.

As the pianist played space themed tunes in the background (thank you David Bennet!), and our desserts were brought out, Lead Educators, Space Engineering Alumni, funders, advocates and new friends swapped stories from the last 10 years. It was humbling to hear so much praise for the work the team have done so far.

Dinner conversation at the National Space Academy celebration dinnerTalk switched to what the future might hold for space science and education, and the next steps for the National Space Academy.

Dr Becca Wilson summed it up perfectly in a tweet later than evening....

Dr Becca Wilsons tweet 10 year celebrations"Celebrating 10 years of @UKSpaceAcademy . I'm privileged to have worked with so many inspiring teachers & staff on what started as an #EastMidlands regional project > went national > now international. Waiting for it to be interplanetary! #ChallengeAnu @Sophestar #UKSpace #Space"

Thank you to everyone who joined us for a wonderful evening of celebration and discussion.

See more pictures from the evening on our facebook page.
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