A group of local science students got to witness the launch of an Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) into space of an Ariane 5 ES rocket from Europe’s Spaceport, Centre Spatial Guyanais in Kourou, French Guyana. Historically, what they
witnessed was the last of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) ATV project, with the launch of ATV- 5 on Tuesday en route to the International Space Station.
Named after the Belgian scientist who formulated the Big Bang Theory, ATV Georges Lemaître is the fifth ATV built and launched by ESA as part of Europe’s contribution to cover the operational costs for using the International Space Station (ISS).
The rocket lifted off precisely at 23:47 GMT on July 29th (01:47 CEST 30 July, 20:47 local time 29 July), and carried a number of spare parts for the ISS, along with ration, oxygen and air for the crew on board the ISS.
This trip was planned and organized by the Ministry of Public Works and Communication, and facilitated by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority in conjunction with the Ministry of Education. The collaborative effort saw each student, who brought first in his or her respective region during the Ministry of Education’s National Science and Technology Fair 2014, being selected to be part of this historic event.
Team leader and trip coordinator, Senior Air Traffic Control Officer (Guyana Civil Aviation Authority), Mr. Courtney Frank, said that the Ministry of Public Works and Communication through its Minister, Mr. Robeson Benn, commenced a series of initiatives designed to engage Guyanese students in various scientific experiences to further stimulate their interests in the sciences. “Our Ministry covers quite a lot of technological ground in Guyana, particularly, in the areas of engineering, meteorology and aviation. Being able to expose some of our science students to the experience of witnessing the launch of a rocket into space is but the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship we expect to have with the Ministry of Education, as we continue to collaborate on other projects,” Frank said.
The students were thrilled by the experience of seeing a rocket launched into space. Drawn from all of the school districts, save one, the students included: Vivian Henry (Region One – Santa Rosa Secondary); Devindra Persaud (Region Two – Abrams Zuil Secondary); Laksman Ramdat (Region Three – Zeeburg Secondary); Kenya Maynard (Region Four – President’s College); Jeremy Baran (Region Six – Berbice High School); Shonetta Tyrell (Region Seven – Three Miles Secondary); Travis Warner (Region Eight – Mahdia Secondary); Leana Lindie (Region Nine – St Ignatius Secondary); Jahni Williamson (Region 10 – Mackenzie High School); Nicolas Elliot (Georgetown – Queen’s College); and Dwight Ferguson (Georgetown – St. Joseph High).
The students were accompanied by Assistant Chief Education Officer (Secondary), Ms Leslyn Charles, along with two teachers, Mr. Colin Moses (St Stanislaus College), and Ms Kamini Ramrattan (Richard Ishmael Secondary).
The students were all enthralled by the experience of seeing the launch of the rocket.
“This is just amazing. I am lost for words. I will always remember this moment,” said Region One’s Vivian Henry. And according to Region Two’s Laksman Ramdat, “this was a thrilling experience for me. Witnessing this live is momentous. I am really happy to be a part of this experience.”
As an aspiring Energy Systems Engineer, Nicolas Elliot said the experience was a rewarding one. “It was without a shadow of doubt worth it, because of being heavily inclined to science; it was truly informative to see all the theoretical physics and geography intricately combined in order to make the launch a success. I would be most thrilled if these same ventures can be pioneered in my home country, Guyana, since I fervently believe that with sufficient interventions, we should be able to perform these activities because we have prime locations and adequate resources.”
Leana Lindie of Region Nine couldn’t contain herself pointing out that “I am shocked. I never dreamed I would have witnessed this. I am very happy to be here to share this experience with other students from Guyana.”
ATV Georges Lemaître is due to dock with the Station on 12 August, 2014 and will remain attached for up to six months before leaving with waste material for destruction along with the spaceship during atmospheric re-entry.
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