Liverpool students meet NASA’s chief flight director

Students from the Academy of St Francis Assisi and the Academy of St Nicholas recently got a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet NASA’s chief flight director at Liverpool University.

50 students spent the day enjoying a number of science and engineering based activities at the university including communicating with and controlling Lego Rovers on the ‘moon’ and investigating meteorites under the microscope to discover what they are made from.

Later in the day, the students got to hear from Holly Ridings, NASA’s chief flight director, who deals with managing human spaceflight missions from the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Hollie manages 32 active flight directors and flight directors-in-training who oversee a variety of human spaceflight missions involving the International Space Station, as well as Orion spacecraft missions to the moon and beyond. Hollie is a native of Amarillo, Texas, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University in 1996.

Following the talk, a Q&A, facilitated by Dr Jackie Bell who is a native of Liverpool and a participant on the BBC’s ‘Astronauts: Do You Have What it Takes?’, took place which allowed students to put their own questions to Holly and find out more about her exciting role at NASA.

Mr Kevin Maddocks, head of school at the Academy of St Francis Assisi, said: “This was a fantastic experience for our students and particularly as a great way of encouraging careers in STEM. Not many people will get the opportunity to meet such a key member of the NASA organisation and I’m delighted that it was our students who have had this chance.”

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