CITY OF DISCOVERY; Schoolkids in Live Chat with Astronauts on Space Shuttle Named after Historic Ship

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FOUR thrilled Scots schoolkids yesterday broadcast live to the orbiting space Shuttle Discovery - from the ship that gave the spacecraft its name.

David Manson, 10, Nadia Long, 11, Michael Donaldson, 11, all from Dundee and Jonathan Reid, 12, of Broughty Ferry, quizzed astronauts for 20 minutes as they circled 234 miles above the Earth.

The symbolic chat with spacemen Jim Wetherbee, Jim Shepherd and Andy Thomas launched centenary celebrations of Captain Robert Scott's research ship Discovery.

It left Dundee in 1901 on the first exploration of the Antarctic.

The two-way talk-in was masterminded by Pete Mungall, education officer with Dundee Heritage Trust.

When the live link was made at 11.42am, Discovery was over the middle of the USA.

And when it ended 20 minutes later, they had passed over Spain and the Mediterranean travelling at 17,045mph.

The primary pupils were winners of a short essay competition to describe why they would like to have been crew members aboard both Discovery vessels.

And the astronauts were grilled on all aspects of their mission.

Nadia wanted to know what space travel would be like in another 100 years and why there were more men than women in space.

Shuttle Commander Wetherbee told her: "There will be more women in the future. There are more women pilots training in the military and there are more women working with us.

"Maybe, one day, you can come work with us, too."

David wondered what happened to the rubbish from the space station.

And Jim Shepherd told him some of their waste was returned to Earth and some was burned up in the atmosphere, a very efficient way to get rid of it.

Jonathan wanted a description of the view from space and the most spectacular sight from a spacecraft.

Andy Thomas said the views from space were fabulous and that his favourite was the shimmering green curtain created by the Northern Lights.

With Discovery heading for the dark side of the Earth, it was left to Nadia to say how they all felt. …