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ManSat students on their 'amazing experience'

Students from the Isle of Man who spent two out-of-this-world weeks at 'space school' have been recounting their experiences.

Faye Devlin, 18, a student at St Ninian’s High School, and Alex Thomas, 17, who attends Ballakermeen High School, were presented with certificates by Minister for Education and Children Eddie Teare to commemorate their experience this summer.

Faye and Alex made the trip to NASA United Space School, situated next to the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, thanks to ManSat's annual scholarship for secondary school students.

Thanking ManSat, Faye said: 'It was the best two weeks of my life. We met some really interesting people, made links all over the world and made new friends who will be friends for life.

'I couldn't have asked for a more amazing opportunity. We met the flight directors of the Apollo missions and we went to places like mission control, that you only see in films.'

Alex added his thanks, saying: 'We talked to astronauts on the International Space Station – people actually in space – which was truly amazing.'

Mr Teare thanked ManSat, represented by director Ian Jarritt, for its long term commitment to education and to the young people of the Island.

He said if the Island was to grow its role in the industry it needed people with the skills, energy and enthusiasm to drive things forward.

While in Houston, the students met ManSat co-founder and president Chris Stott, a Manxman, and his astronaut wife Nicole. They represented the Island at a cultural event, reciting Manx poetry and wearing Manx tartan. Alex said his host family was fascinated by the Island and hoped to visit.

The first student to attend the NASA United Space School made the trip, sponsored by ManSat, in 2000.

The partnership with the then Department of Education began the following year. Between 2001 and 2006, one Year 12 student was selected each year. Since 2007, two students have made the trip each summer.

Faye and Alex, who were chosen from among students who completed three lengthy essays, are the 15th and 16th students to benefit from the scheme.

The 2012 scholarship will be promoted in secondary schools from November 2011.

Eddie Teare is a general election candidate in the constituency of Ayre, along with Pat Ayres and Andrew Newington-Bridges.

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