24th January 2017 - Primary school students today reached for the stars when they made a once in a lifetime video-call to space! The 300 students and 50 teachers from Limerick, Kildare and Tipperary made the live video call from Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) to European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet at the International Space Station (ISS). The event took place as part of the European Space Education Resource Office (ESERO) programme in Ireland, which is co-funded by Science Foundation Ireland and ESA.

The in-flight call, gave students and teachers in LIT’s Millennium Theatre the opportunity to ask Thomas Pesquet questions such as how we use space in our daily lives and how the many applications from space research have changed the way we live today. The video link up, which also included participants from Portugal and Romania, is believed to have been the first time a live video call has been made in Ireland with a European astronaut on the ISS. 

The event is part of a vast range of educational activities delivered by ESERO Ireland, to help support teachers in using space as a rich and inspiring context to teach science. Stephanie O’Neill, ESERO Ireland Manager, Science Foundation Ireland said: “We are delighted to host this in-flight call to ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet in partnership with Limerick Institute of Technology. This exciting opportunity to speak to an astronaut live from the International Space Station has inspired the 300 students attending today to further explore space and the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) career opportunities that are open to them. Interactive presentations from Blackrock Castle Observatory and the Northern Ireland Space Office were also greatly enjoyed.”

“Many other students, teachers and space enthusiasts from across the country were also able to watch the video as it streamed live online on the ESA website, giving many more people the chance to learn about how important space is in our everyday lives.”

This is Thomas Pesquet’s first visit to the ISS. He launched into space on 17 November 2016 for his six-month Proxima mission as a flight engineer and he is scheduled to return to earth in May 2017. Throughout his Proxima mission, Thomas has a full schedule of science experiments planned; from testing for water contamination on earth and in space; investigating antibacterial properties of materials in space to see if future spacecraft could be made easier to clean and to monitor what space radiation reaches the ISS and his body. 

The live stream can be accessed at 15:45 today and will last approx. 20 mins: