Dounreay folk were given an unique opportunity to hear former NASA space shuttle pilot Duane Carey when he came to the site recently to give a talk on his career and experiences in the space shuttle programme.
Duane was in Caithness for the second year in a row, giving public and school talks as part of the Caithness International Science Festival. Duane also included a visit to HMS Vulcan.
Duane took his spellbound audience on a journey through space, as they followed the five-day mission to upgrade the Hubble telescope, orbiting earth 350 miles high and at a speed of 18,000 mph.
Many of the Dounreay staff could sympathise with the difficulties of working in cumbersome air-fed suits – although not the lack of gravity – and the radiation hazards faced by the astronauts.
Professor Iain Baikie, one of the organisers of the Science Festival, later said that thanks to the generosity of its sponsors, the Science Festival was able to bring motivational speakers like Duane Carey to schools in Caithness.
“We are deeply indebted to the NDA for their generous donation of £10,000, the Dounreay Communities Fund who gave £3,000 and to Rolls-Royce for their donation of £1,000. Their help and that of many other companies in cash and kind, means that the Science Festival can continue to bring high-quality speakers to talk to the children. Public communication of science is increasingly important to help counter the nationwide decline in take-up of science subjects. I think that everyone who listened to Duane would agree he was a very motivational speaker and the organising committee have already received several emails from members of the Dounreay audience saying how much they enjoyed his presentation”