The ACC CanSat team which recently had a Zoom call with retired astronaut George 'Pinky' Nelson. From left to right: Arnav Kothari, Sean Sibindi, Regan Hoh, Mateusz Mroz, George Mhitarjans and Mia Olwill.

Former American astronaut meets with CanSat team

by Lily O'Connor

Students of Athlone Community College taking part in a competition to build a satellite had the opportunity to talk with retired American astronaut George 'Pinky' Nelson over Zoom recently.

Dr Nelson spoke to the pupils taking part in the CanSat competition about his time spent in space, as well as answering their questions on spaceflight.

CanSat is a competition organised by the European Space Agency that provides second level students with the chance to build and program a small satellite. Their satellite must record factors such as air pressure and temperature, and must also perform a secondary mission of the team's choice. The satellite is equipped with a parachute to ensure a gentle landing.

Athlone Community College student Mia Olwill had previously met Dr Nelson, who is her neighbour’s father, and coordinated this Zoom meeting for their CanSat team. Team members include George Mhitarjans, Matthew Mroz, Mia Olwill, Regan Hoh, Sean Sibindi, and Arnav Kothari. The students noted that he was a very humble and sincere person and his well wishes have instilled hope in them to progress to the next level of the competition. The national CanSat champions will travel to the Netherlands in June and will get the chance to visit the European Space Agency's Research and Technology Centre.