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Space Age Lectures AnnouncementSixty years ago, on October 4th 1957, Sputnik 1 successfully entered Earth's orbit, heralding the start of the space age. The launch gave the former Soviet Union the distinction of putting the first human-made object into space.

The ramifications of this were felt worldwide, but also at a local level. At the time, to reflect the space age and its cultural legacy, Egglescliffe School’s house blocks were named after astronauts and cosmonauts in the space race. Now, decades on, the unique Aldrin, Armstrong, Lovell, Gagarin and Tereshkova blocks are still thriving.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the start of the space age, as well as this year’s UK-Russia Year of Science and Education, the Stockton secondary school announces the launch of its own space mission for Tuesday July 17th 2018: The Space Age Lectures.

Further details and updates on The Space Age Lectures will be announced via the school’s website and Twitter account over the coming months.

Organised in conjunction with students who left the school four decades ago, the day will be filled with inspiring lectures and events. Topics will range from the history of the American, former Soviet Union and Russian space programmes, to the development of the European and UK space agencies.

The event will feature high-profile speakers, giving students the chance to learn about the courage and passion of those who ventured into space in the early days, and where the future lies as humanity expands its horizons and looks ever further afield.

The Science Museum in London has been active in linking Egglescliffe School directly with Valentina Tereshkova, who became the first woman in space when she flew Vostok 6 in 1963. As part of the celebration of the UK-Russia Year of Science and Education, letters from the school have been delivered to Tereshkova in Russia, with a personal message due to be returned via the British Council in Moscow.

Doug Millard, the Science Museum’s own distinguished expert and Deputy Keeper of Technologies and Engineering, will open The Space Age Lectures, delivering a keynote speech on the history of Soviet space flight.

He has produced many space exhibitions, and written articles, papers and books. He was the senior curator for the Science Museum’s Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age and Valentina Tereshkova: First Woman in Space exhibitions. Without question, Doug Millard’s passion for space education is unrivalled.

Representatives from NASA have been invited to cover the American space programme.

The keynote speaker for the lecture on European and UK space exploration will be Chair of the UK Space Agency, Professor David Southwood. He is former Director of Science and Robotic Exploration at the European Space Agency, and currently holds the post of Senior Research Investigator in the Department of Physics at Imperial College London, focusing on solar-terrestrial physics and planetary science.

Professor Southwood was part of the management team for the Cassini-Huygens mission, among many other accomplishments. The spacecraft embarked on a seven-year voyage across the solar system, eventually reaching Saturn in July 2004. Several months later, the Cassini orbiter released the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe, descending onto Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, in January 2005. Professor Southwood had been responsible for the first landing of a human-made object in the outer solar system!

Last month, he was at NASA’s mission control to watch Cassini’s ‘grand finale’, when the spacecraft was deliberately plunged into Saturn. This was to ensure that, with Cassini having expended almost every bit of the rocket propellant it carried to Saturn, the planet’s moons will remain pristine for future exploration.

Simon White, head teacher at Egglescliffe School, commented: “This is a wonderful, exciting venture that encapsulates everything that is good about broadening students’ horizons and giving them an inspirational educational experience. The opportunity to welcome world-class scientists into the school and link with business, former students and universities gives students a wider perspective and makes them realise what is possible. To welcome speakers of this standing is a huge honour for Egglescliffe School.”

The year ahead promises to be hugely exciting, with the school forging scientific links that not only connect with its space-related past but can also inspire current generations of students to carry space exploration to new levels by becoming the next aeronautical engineers and developers. With the UK Space Education Office supporting the event, there will be resources for the school to enhance this innovative opportunity for learning.

Further details and updates on The Space Age Lectures will be announced via the school’s website and Twitter account over the coming months.