Students given exclusive chance to meet an astronaut, see a space suit demonstration and learn about human space exploration

Italy’s first astronaut talks to University of Leicester, MSc Space Exploration Systems students

Italy’s first astronaut to fly in space, Dr Franco Malerba, is visiting the University of Leicester to talk to MSc Space Exploration Systems students in our Department of Physics and Astronomy on Wednesday 27 February. 

The talk is just one of a number of exclusive student only events taking place over three days (26-28 February) organised by Dr Emily Jane Watkinson, Human Spaceflight half-module lead on our MSc Space Exploration Systems course.

Students will be able to hear a range of external speakers as they provide individual talks and partake in panel debates. Attendees will hear about Space Exploration, International Scenarios and technology insights.

Speaking before the event Dr Emily Jane Watkinson said: “This is an incredibly exciting and inspiring opportunity for our MSc Space Exploration Systems students. “Before the workshop, the students learn about some of the challenges of being in microgravity and of the space radiation environment on the human body. This workshop is a fantastic opportunity for students to ask and speak with a number of experts with wide-ranging human spaceflight related expertise and experiences. 

“It is not every day you are able to meet an astronaut or a trained astronaut instructor. It is also not every day you meet an expert who understands the importance of psychology in human space exploration and meet people who have been involved in designing technology and environments for astronauts to use and work in.

“This is without a doubt an inspirational event for our students, who are growing into our next generation of space exploration scientists and engineers.”

The key event is being held on Wednesday 27 February, at Physics Lecture Theatre B, at 1:30 pm.   

There will be an exciting panel debate with our experts Piero Messidoro, Dr Franco Malerba, Dr Iya Whiteley and Dr Suzie Imber. There will be a demonstration of a pressurisable space suit (which may be the only one of its kind in the UK) led by Professor Anu Ojha from the National Space Centre. Dr Franco Malerba will also discuss his real-life spaceflight experience on the STS-46 Space Shuttle mission in 1992.  For this event only, 4th Year MPhys Physics students and Physics PhD students can also attend.

Speakers at the key event on Wednesday 27 February are:

Piero Messidoro was the Deputy Chief Technical Officer for Thales Alenia Space Italy and VP of the international company for R&D, Technology and Product Policy and has a wealth of experience in Space Exploration. After retirement he is External Professor in Space Systems Engineering at Politecnico di Torino (Italy) and Space consultant of the Piedmont Agency for Internationalization of SME's. 
Dr Franco Malerba was the first Italian astronaut to fly in space. He flew on the STS-46 Space Shuttle mission in 1992. He has a Masters in Electronics Engineering a PhDs in biophysics. You may find more details about Franco here: 
Dr Iya Whiteley is the Director of the Centre for Space Medicine at Mullard Space Science Laboratory (UCL) and is a space psychologist. Her wealth of experience includes being a “Human Behaviour Performance Specialist and contributed to the development of the Human Behaviour Performance course for the new European Astronaut corp.” You may also remember Iya from the BBC2 series “Astronauts: Do you Have What is Takes?”. She has also recently published a book "Toolkit For A Space Psychologist". 
Dr Suzie Imber is an Associate Professor in our Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester. In addition to her research in the Radio and Space Plasma Physics Group and lecturing, Suzie recently took part and won the BBC2 series “Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?” and has been involved in a variety of related activities since. 

Professor Anu Ojha OBE will be providing a very interesting 30 minute interactive talk in the middle of the Wednesday 27th Afternoon. As well as being the Director of the National Space Centre, Anu has a wealth of experience including being on STFC Council and the ESA Human Spaceflight and Exploration Science Advisory Committee (HESAC)(2018-2022).