24th November 2021: Approximately 100 post primary school students from St Leo’s College Carlow, Presentation College Carlow and Tyndall College Carlow, will today take part in a once in a lifetime live video call with a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut on board the International Space Station (ISS).

The in-flight call was secured after Institute of Technology Carlow reached for the stars in its STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) ambitions by collaborating with the European Space Education Resource Office (ESERO) Ireland at Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). Dr Stephen Scully, a lecturer in the Department of Aerospace, Mechanical and Electronic Engineering at Institute of Technology Carlow, and Stephanie O’Neill, ESERO Ireland Manager at SFI, together led the successful bid to secure the call with the German ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, currently on board the ISS. 

Taking place in IT Carlow’s Haughton Building, the event will give the students and teachers the opportunity to ask Matthias questions about living and working on the ISS and how we use space technologies in our daily lives. Students in Germany and the Czech Republic will also join the call which takes place at 14.05 (approx.) and will be streamed by ESA:

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Space enthusiasts, families and students of all ages and from across the country are invited to watch the video when it streams live. The event also coincides with the Government of Ireland’s Creating Our Future campaign, which provides the public with the opportunity to submit their ideas for research that could be explored to make our country better for all.

Stephanie O’Neill, ESERO Ireland Manager, Science Foundation Ireland said: “We are delighted to host this in-flight call to ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer in partnership with Institute of Technology Carlow. This is a rare opportunity to talk in real time with an astronaut on board the International Space Station, which will be enormously inspiring for the students attending today. It will hopefully encourage them to further explore space and the many diverse career paths in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) that are open to them.”

This is the first space mission for Matthias, who flew to the Station on the SpaceX Crew Dragon which launched from Florida, USA, at 03:03 CET, Thursday 11 November 2021, for a mission called Cosmic Kiss. He was accompanied by NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron.

During his time in orbit, Matthias will support over 35 European experiments and even more international experiments on board. The outcomes of these experiments will advance our knowledge in areas ranging from human health to materials science, benefitting life on Earth and the future of space exploration.

“It is amazing to think that we will get to talk directly to German ESA astronaut, Matthias Maurer, while he is living and working in space. I hope our video call from IT Carlow to the ISS will inspire the students present to reach for the stars and know that, when it comes to STEM education, the possibilities can literally be out of this world” commented Dr Scully.

Students at today’s event will also hear from the Cosmic Kiss Crew Support in the ESA Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany and receive an introduction to the James Webb Space Telescope Mission, which will launch in December, and hear interviews with Thomas Ormston from ESA and Dr Patrick Kavanagh, DIAS. PhD Students from IT Carlow will also give talks on using robots to explore the Solar System, the challenges of Space exploration, and the science of human movement in Space.

For the full event programme visit https://esero.ie