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Space Café Scotland Recap by Angela Mathis: Inclusive Space is Scotland’s Goal

The event is dedicated to those who championed Inclusive Space in Scotland since the early 2000s with the NASA outreach team, now the Scottish Space School at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. At its peak in 2007 ‘NASA in Scotland’ brought 15 NASA Astronauts and Engineers and Russian Cosmonauts to Scotland. They toured the length and breadth of Scotland inspiring 22,000 young Scots. It surely primed and continues to prime our current national enthusiasm in the Scottish Space industry.

Space Café Scotland Angela Mathis and her guests Kenzie Young, fresh from the Scottish Space School this summer, and Mick O’Connor, Programme Director at Prestwick Spaceport – explore the challenges and some local initiatives to achieve inclusion. How to help people feel they can be included in Scotland’s Space journey. That there could be a job in space with their name on it no matter where they are starting from.

Kenzie and Mick describe their individual journeys towards a career in Space.

“…a seminal moment for me…it gave me a level of confidence….So, for some reason, as a 20 year old, I realized that I can do anything in life I want to achieve, and the only person that can actually stop me is me. And that’s a mantra that’s lived with me my whole life”. [Mick]

“…I think also having a really specific goal, ..I know, this is what I want. This is what I’ve directed my whole life and school career towards, and it’s just not an option to fail. …I wanted to be the first person to play the bagpipes on the moon. Somebody played the bagpipes on the International Space Station, …I’m going for the Moon”. [Kenzie]

Kenzie is keen to share that the Scottish Space School is open to all S5 pupils (min16 years old), not just science students. Apply on-line !
And, it’s not all about Engineering and STEM, but STE-A-M. At every level STEM without ‘meta thinking and creativity’ will struggle to overcome growing complexity and solve today’s problems without contributing to the problems of tomorrow. The Space sector needs to put it all to work to achieve its best.

Mick explains he grew up in Greenock, which is on the banks of the river Clyde, part of a wider community called Inverclyde. Sadly, there’s a lot of deprivation in Inverclyde with all the indicators you don’t want.  Mick wants to help the people in Inverclyde and across Scotland to aspire to something better.

Mick, @Skills Development Scotland, @Scottish Enterprise and @The Royal Society of Arts are looking to use Space as a catalyst for inclusion.

He is part of creating an activity called the ‘Inverclyde MakerSpace’, working with NextFab Foundation, who bring experience of places that have been subject to similar economic decline, places like Pittsburgh and the rust belt. It’s a very similar story to Greenock, Inverclyde where there has been the decline of the steel industry. It seems, Pittsburgh is a success story to draw upon, through organizations like NextFab Foundation.  The aim is to introduce people in Inverclyde to technology, entrepreneurship, etc, to give them a positive destination – give people hope, belief and skills.

We learn that the Prestwick Spaceport as a hub with 50% of Scotland’s aerospace industry.

So, Space is a natural extension of evolution to what’s already there. With a budget from both the Scottish and UK Governments of about 80 million pounds to build a spaceport it will create a space cluster with 4,000 new jobs between now and 2035.

Prestwick is working to create a horizontal launch spaceport.

A novel launch and space vehicle concept that puts Systems Engineering at the absolute core – looking at crewed spaceflight, working with a US-based organization to develop a single stage to orbit space vehicle for in-space manufacture, experimentation and space construction, and able to dock with the ISS. This game-changing configuration will also allow tactical insertion to get humanitarian relief with boots and equipment on the ground quickly, potentially within 90 minutes, on the other side of the globe.

There are three other spaceports in construction in Scotland at present; @SaxaVord Spaceport in Shetland, @Sutherland Spaceport and @Spaceport One in the Hebrides.

Together they form the Spaceport Alliance as part of the @Scottish Space Leadership Council.

The other spaceports are traditional vertical launch spaceports in terms of the ESA programme. Absolutely, Scotland and the UK remain committed to an enduring relationship with the European Space Agency and our European Space industry partners.

To listen to Space Café Scotland’s insights, you can watch the full program here:


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