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Nasa astronaut lands in Northern Ireland for Space Week events

By Rebecca Black

Published 02/10/2015

A Nasa astronaut is visiting Belfast to help inspire the next generation.

Colonel Greg H Johnson has left Earth twice to deliver vital equipment to the International Space Station.

Space shuttle Endeavour
Space shuttle Endeavour

Colonel Johnson's visit to Belfast is the highlight of local celebrations of World Space Week, which begins next Monday.

Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry welcomed the former Nasa man to the Ulster Museum yesterday at the launch of the festivities. During a speech, the Alliance MLA said space technology was important to the economy in Northern Ireland with some 8,000 people employed in the sector.

"The importance of Stem skills to this sector cannot be underestimated," he said.

"It is imperative, therefore, that if we are to meet this challenge, we inspire our young people to consider these subjects from an early age. We must also do our utmost to encourage those students who initially study Stem-related subjects in post-primary school to continue to pursue this course of study through to higher education. Space Week is an ideal opportunity for us to reach out to young people to show what is open to them and that careers in this exciting industry are a real possibility in Northern Ireland, if you have the right skills and knowledge to prepare you for it."

Robert Hill, director of the Northern Ireland Space Office, said: "Our young scientists and engineers of the future can help Northern Ireland and the UK capture a significant slice of the market."

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