Pupils practice being astronauts during spacewalk

Oakwood School staff and pupils have a go at working in thick gloves
Oakwood School staff and pupils have a go at working in thick gloves

PUPILS watched Major Tim Peake’s first spacewalk – then had a go at being astronauts themselves.

Space engineer Andrew Knight, who has worked on several spacecraft, joined staff and pupils at Oakwood School in Chichester for a thrilling afternoon on Friday.

He took along a selection of spare parts from the Rosetta space probe for the children to handle, including a Titanium Bolt, a valve worth about £20,000 that used in a spacecraft propulsion system.

Mr Knight has built, tested and launched several large European Space Agency spacecraft, including the Herschel Space Observatory and the Rosetta, which is currently orbiting the sun following a comet.

Boys and girls from years three to six gathered to watch Chichester-born astronaut Tim on screen as he made repairs to the International Space Station.

They watched in excitement as he manoeuvred around the station, revealing glimpses of planet Earth behind him at times.

Pupils had the chance to try to carry out some of the fiddly work that astronauts might have to complete, such as screwing and unscrewing bolts, while wearing thick ski gloves to replicate the cumbersome space suits.

Sarah Mayhead, admissions and marketing manager, said: “The conclusion was that it was very fiddly and difficult not to drop vital parts - a disaster in space.

“BBC South Today came to film the Oakwood children and staff watching Major Tim, and several pupils were thrilled to be interviewed.

“Oakwood pupi Rufus Knight has met Tim and is hoping to organise a ticker tape parade around Chichester for the astronaut, once he finishes his stint on the ISS, to mark such a momentous achievement by this local hero.”

Mr Knight said eight-year-old Rufus had met Tim Peake in November and asked him if he would return to Chichester for a ticker tape parade.

“Tim said he would be honoured,” he added.

“Although no firm date has been provided by the UK Space Agency, local and national interest in the parade is very high. It will be a fantastic opportunity for local children to come out and celebrate our local hero.

“Tim has shown everyone how hard work and dedication can allow us all to achieve our dreams. The parade in his home town will celebrate his achievements as well as inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.

“There will be plenty of people and organisations there to help children find the path they need to achieve their goals.”

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