North East space event gets ready to blast off with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield

Chris Hadfield - STEMFest in Space

One of the most seasoned and accomplished astronauts in the world, Chris Hadfield will speak to North East school children as a keynote speaker at this year’s STEMFest in Space event tomorrow, 7 October.

Over 420 schools have already signed up to the free event, organised by the North East STEM hub, run by RTC North, which includes high profile speakers and presenters from NASA, Virgin Galactic, the Aldrin Family Foundation and Project Ianos.

The event will explore the many wonders of space and the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) learning and combines classroom and hands-on learning in and exciting, fun packed day.

It will be delivered online to reach a wider audience and young people will be able to learn from the comfort of their own classroom and interact with STEM Ambassadors who work or support the international space industry. It is also a perfect opportunity for young people to understand what a career in the space sector might look like.

Now retired, Chris Hadfield is the first Canadian to walk in space. He has flown two Space Shuttle missions and served as Commander of the International Space Station where, while conducting a record-setting number of scientific experiments and overseeing an emergency spacewalk, he has gained worldwide acclaim for his breathtaking photographs and educational videos about life in space.

Chris will be interviewed by Suzie Imber, winner of the 2017 BBC2 series ‘Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?’, about his experiences of space and his forthcoming book, The Apollo Murders, which will be released on 12 October.

Alongside Suzie Imber and event host Dallas Campbell, Chris will also launch Mars Day 2022 – an exciting free virtual event which marks the various missions that have landed on Mars and provides a further opportunity for young people to continue their fascination with space! 

Event organiser, Claire Willis, STEM Business Development Manager at RTC North, said: “Our aim is to deliver an inclusive event for all ages from reception and key stage 1 pupils through to sixth form, teachers and families – there is something for everyone.

“I’m over the moon that Chris has agreed to join us and I appreciate him giving his time to share his experiences. Chris is one of the most-high profiled astronauts in the world so to have him as part of STEMFest in Space is amazing.

“I hope Chris and all the other speakers and presenters will inspire our younger generation to consider a career in STEM – this is building up to be a truly fantastic free event.”

Last week, organisers announced Dave Mackay, the Chief Pilot of Virgin Galactic as another key speaker. Mr Mackay is a three-time commercial astronaut with Virgin Galactic and was one of two pilots on the Unity 22 test flight which launched on 11 July 2021, flying founder Richard Branson and three other mission specialists to see first-hand the extraordinary experience Virgin Galactic is creating for future astronauts.

STEMFest in Space will run from 9.30am until 7pm and is being delivered as part of World Space Week (4-10 October).

Last year, the event attracted over 14,000 children from schools, colleges and community groups from across the UK and worldwide. This included 478 schools across the UK, USA, India, Pakistan, The Maldives, Zimbabwe, Singapore and Nigeria. 256 of those schools were based here in the North East where the young children and their teachers could interact and ask questions to speakers and participate in some of the exciting experiments and activities.

Claire continued, “This is a free event for all ages and any schools or colleges interested in signing up can do so via the Eventbrite website.”

Emma Foster, Y5 Teacher at Deaf Hill Primary School, Trimdon Station in Durham, said: “This is our second ever STEMFest in Space event and the children are PSYCHED! We are studying Space this term and have built our lessons around space exploration.

“This is such an amazing opportunity for our pupils, who would never normally have an opportunity like this, to talk to leading experts in science, hopefully inspiring them to pursue a career in STEM. With the event being held virtually and free of charge, it has allowed us to get involved and we cannot wait!”

You must pre-register for this event. Tickets are free and can be booked at

To find out more about STEMFest in Space, you can visit their website at

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