Out of this world experience for Cundall Pupils

9th April 2018

Pupils from a leading North Yorkshire School were treated to an experience of a lifetime following the visit of a former NASA Astronaut.

Cundall Manor School, based between Thirsk and Ripon, played host to Rick Mastracchio, at the end of last term to hear all about his experience in space and his career to date.

Rick who is a former NASA astronaut and a veteran of four missions, popped by the local school as part of a wider tour across Yorkshire. In his career working for NASA he logged 227 days, 13 hours, 38 minutes in space, including NINE extravehicular activities outside of the space station. Rick is one of just over 500 people ever to make it outside of the earth’s orbit.

In two talks to an audience of pupils from 6 to 16 years of age, Rick’s advice to the fascinated pupils was to excel at their studies, but also to challenge themselves and acquire a wide variety of skills. Rick’s unique and valuable experience on the astronaut selection board later in his career taught him that being an astronaut is not all about academia. Adding, whether it is playing a musical instrument, competing at sports or being good with their hands, all these skills contribute to creating a well-rounded person.

Rick also talked about the value of resilience. Having told pupils that he applied to be a NASA Astronaut NINE times, Rick then delighted pupils with his personal spaceflight experience and the history of the space program as a whole. Not surprisingly, Rick’s message of perseverance coupled with the prospect of commercial space flight in the near future had the school pupil’s inspired.

Headmistress at the school, Mrs Amanda Kirby, introduced Rick to an appreciative audience of pupils. She said: “It is an absolute honour to welcome Rick to Cundall Manor School. It is not every day that you get to meet a person who has lived such an extraordinary life.”

“Rick’s experiences give him a very unique perspective on life and for him to get on stage at our school and speak to our pupils is an experience that I am certain none of our pupils or staff will ever forget.”

Pupils from the school also got to ask the former NASA astronaut their own questions including his opinions on how he sees the future of space travel developing. Pupils then got the chance to pose for a photo with Rick.

The visit was arranged as part of Space Lectures’ outreach program. The next in the series of lectures will see astronauts Dr Rhea Seddon and Captain Robert Lee Gibson come to Yorkshire in October.

To find out more about Rick and his trip to Cundall Manor School, visit their website at www.cundallmanorschool.com.