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Space for Health: astronaut Richard Garriott encourages east London students to get fit and aim higher

Astronaut Richard Garriott will be promoting healthy lifestyles and careers in science and medicine when he meets students at Queen Mary, University of London today (Wednesday, 20 July 2011).

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Astronaut Richard Garriott
Astronaut Richard Garriott

More than one hundred teenagers from nine schools in Hackney, Newham, and Tower Hamlets will get a chance to meet Garriott, a multi-millionaire computer games entrepreneur and private space participant at the event at Centre of the Cell, Queen Mary’s award-winning children’s education centre.

Garriott is the sixth private citizen to fly in Earth's orbit; he will be sharing the secrets of his career success with students, as well as giving an inside view of what it is like to train like an astronaut and to venture into space.

As well as the chance to meet Richard, students will also have an opportunity to find out about leading-edge medical research at Queen Mary, University of London, to work alongside space-age medics, and to meet a range of experts involved in nutrition, space food design, robotics, and microgravity.

Richard was prevented from becoming a NASA astronaut due to health issues - which proved to be the motivation for him founding the first private space travel programme. He commented: "I had to overcome major medical issues before I could get to space. Being healthy and fit is important to get into space and to enjoy your time off-world.”

He added: “While floating in space is great fun, it is also very hard on the human body. Astronauts must exercise regularly or risk dangerous bone loss and muscle atrophy. The same regiment keeps earth bound explorers in top shape too." 

Professor Peter McOwan, Dean for Taught Programmes in Queen Mary’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, commented: “It’s always a great fun to work with Richard and our local schools in promoting science and medicine, and this time Richard has a chance to explore the Centre of the Cell too.”

Richard is hosting the event in his role as an ambassador for Mission X, a series of free resources and challenges for schools, which provides pupils with a fun and interesting way to promote fitness and boost interest in science.  

Richard added: "I’ve been pleased to support the Space for Health event and hope that schools will also be involved in Mission X: Train Like An Astronaut. I’m a big supporter of Mission X and hope students will train like I do.”

Richard Garriott has also collaborated with Queen Mary, University of London, Venture Thinking and GovEd to create Our Space – a special online video gallery of some of Richard’s favourite moments in space, which are available online here:

Allan Clements , Manager of the UK Space education office said: “These wonderful space videos are making a major contribution to enriching the teaching and learning of STEM subjects. Locating them within the National STEM Centre's elibrary will increase the number of teachers using them throughout the UK.”

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