Don Thomas standing in front of a space shuttle.
Photo: Supplied.

Fifty years ago, on 20 July 1969, the world stood stunned when Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon.

Since then our science and technology have come a long way and we have been travelling to space more frequently, trying to explore other planets and even dreaming of someday living on another planet.

It is brave men and women who push themselves to go where no man has ever gone, in order for us to learn. One of these brave men will soon be visiting the West Rand on a 2019 Space Tour.

Don Thomas when he visited South African schools in 2017.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut, Dr Don Thomas, a veteran of 692 space orbits of Earth is in South Africa this September.

His mission this time is to inspire what he often refers to as the ‘Mars generation’. He conducted a similar tour in 2017, but his 2019 tour kicked off in Cape Town on 11 September. Today he is in Lanseria and from there he moves to Durban.

The tour is an initiative of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-based non-governmental educational organisation called Living Maths.

Don Thomas in a space shuttle.

During his tour, Dr Thomas will give learners and parents a different perspective on what the not so distant future might look like in terms of technology and space travel. Humans travelling to Mars is on top of the current agenda.

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“I am excited about being a part of the Living Maths’ Space Tour 2019 and look forward to sharing my experiences with the learners and general public in South Africa. It’s very special to be able to do this during the 50th anniversary year of the Apollo 11 moon landing. So while we celebrate that accomplishment, we hope to be inspiring the next generation of mathematicians, scientists, engineers, and astronauts to help us with the missions to our next destination in space, Mars!” said Dr Thomas.

If you think that space travel an infrequent occurrence, you might be surprised to know that to date, 533 humans have space-travelled to reach Earth’s orbit, three others have completed a sub-orbital space flight, and only 12 astronauts have walked on the moon.

I-Innovate, a STEM education specialist, has partnered with Living Maths for the Space Tour events. Events will include a free talk to schools who are under-resourced, at the Sakhikamva Foundations Science, Technology, Robotics Engineering/ Electronics, Aerospace/ Astronomy and Mathematics (STREAM) lab at Lanseria Airport.

The children will learn what it is really like to be shot off the Earth into space and to live and work in a shuttle while orbiting the planet, and so much more.



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