Students from Tonypandy Community College reached for the stars this week when they enjoyed a special visit from a former NASA astronaut!

Commander Michael Foale, who is a veteran of six Space Shuttle missions and extended missions on both Mir and the International Space Station, shared his fascinating tales of space travel.

He gave a presentation to students from the feeder primary schools who will be attending the College next year and his second session was for students of Year 7 in the College.

The British-American astrophysicist was the first man from the UK to perform a space walk.

Commander Foale also holds the record for the most time spent in space by a US citizen of 374 days, 11 hours, 19 minutes. He still holds the cumulative-time-in-space record for a British-born astronaut.

Students were able to ask him a range of questions, including his diet in space, what it was like seeing the Earth from such a distance and why he wanted to join NASA.

Commander Foale talked to the young audience about how he was inspired to join the space programme and how they could also develop their skills and fulfil their dreams and ambitions if they worked hard enough.

He also explained how space exploration benefits life on Earth and what experiments can be undertaken on the International Space Station.

Commander Foale is leading a “Mission Discovery” programme involving Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) which enables pupils to work with astronauts and world-class scientists to get their ideas for a space experiment launched to the International Space Station and to be carried out by astronauts as they orbit the earth.

A group of Tonypandy Community College students will continue their involvement with the STEM programme by joining a three-day Mission Discovery course at Coleg y Cymoedd in Nantgarw.

Gifts were also exchanged by students and Commander Foale before the retired astronaut made a presentation to headteacher Nathan Prygodzicz.

Mr Prygodzicz said: “We were delighted and honoured to welcome Commander Michael Foale to the College and hear his incredible stories of life as a NASA astronaut and the many missions he undertook into space.

“I know how inspired and enthralled the students were by his presentation and how they enjoyed the opportunity to question him about his time in space during his fascinating career.”