• Laurence Russell

Isle of Man’s 2022 Space School scholars report back after planning a mission to Mars

Isle of Man students who took part in this summer’s United Space School (USS) in Houston have been presented with certificates marking their achievement.

ManSat Space School scholars presentation 2022

Daniel Millward and Michael Behrman, who both attend Castle Rushen High School, and King William’s College student Chalse Cowin spent two weeks in the United States after winning the annual Space School scholarships awarded by the ManSat Group.


The USS is run by the Foundation for International Space Education (FISE) and the students are tasked with planning a manned mission to Mars, working alongside peers from more than 20 countries with support from NASA astronauts, engineers and scientists.


The three Year 13 students were presented with certificates by Education, Sport, and Culture Minister Julie Edge at the DESC headquarters in St John’s.


Daniel is studying physics, maths, further maths and music at A-level and has his sights set on a career as an aerospace engineer.


He said: “We were fortunate enough to be able to meet some incredible people such as Chris Hadfield, who served as commander of the International Space Station, Dr Robert Zubrin, who contributed massively to the Mars Direct proposal, and Dr Harold J White who spoke to us on warp drives and their current development.


“We were also able to visit the Neutral Buoyancy Lab which contains full-scale mock-ups of ISS modules and payloads which are used for training astronauts for EVA (extra vehicular activity) tasks for upcoming missions. Another highlight was the Space School culture fair where we cooked chips, cheese, and gravy which went down a storm, although singing the Laxey Wheel in matching SuperManx T-shirts was a bit of a culture shock for some of the international students.

“Before the trip I was indecisive as to whether I wanted to pursue a career in aerospace engineering, but after seeing the industry first hand and being able to work with and learn from different aerospace engineers, I know this is the path I want to take.


“ManSat has been incredible to not only provide us with such a life-changing experience, but to support us throughout our whole trip. We are all very thankful for the time and resources invested in us.”


Chalse is studying higher maths, physics and Spanish with the aim of studying either astrophysics or geology at university.


He said: “Space school was an incredible experience for me. I learnt so much about the space industry, about what I want to do in the future, and I met some amazing people. Living with an American host in Houston was a completely new experience, and really helped us settle into life living in Texas, which was very different to life in the Isle of Man.


“We were given a tour of a Saturn V rocket and a history of the Apollo programme by George Abbey, former director of the Johnson Space Center. Being given a tour of the rocket that took the first men to the Moon by a man who was working there at the time was a really special moment.

“I would like to thank ManSat for giving us this incredible opportunity, we all had an amazing time.”

Michael is studying maths, further maths, computer science and physics.


He said: “I had the greatest time in Houston. The friendships I made will last forever and it was amazing to meet people from all around the world. The instructors and professionals that we were lucky enough to meet really made the whole experience, such as Chris Hadfield, Glen Johnson and Francesco Fusco.


“The main highlights included seeing a used Falcon 9 booster and a real Saturn V and getting to see real hardware that has flown in space.


“I know now more than ever that I definitely want to pursue a career in the space industry. I would like to thank ManSat for this life-changing opportunity, I am so grateful to have been chosen for this wonderful experience and I know it will stay with me for the rest of my life.”


The scholarships to attend the USS are awarded in cooperation with the DESC, with the first recipient in 2000 being Dr Jennifer Stone, who is now Chief Technical Officer for ManSat.

Rachel Beattie, Chief Financial Officer at ManSat, said: ‘It was fantastic that Daniel, Chalse and Michael could attend the USS in person this summer after two years of the school taking place virtually, because of the Covid pandemic.


“Once again, our scholarship recipients have done the Island proud and proved to be excellent ambassadors for their schools and a credit to themselves and their families. Each year we receive wonderful support from the Island’s secondary schools and King William’s College in staging the competition to win the scholarships and we are already planning for 2023 – so all Year 12 students should watch this space!”


Minister Edge said: “This is the kind of inspirational initiative which changes young people’s lives and provides them with wonderful opportunities. I would like to extend my thanks to ManSat for continuing to provide these fantastic scholarships. It was fascinating to hear Chalse, Daniel and Michael talk about their experiences in Houston and I look forward to seeing the next steps they take in their careers.”