Incredible Space Odyssey for Ollie

By on Sep 13, 2018 in Blog |

Nexus 10 student Ollie T, who plans a career as an astronaut, landed himself the experience of a lifetime after writing to a number of organisations expressing his enthusiasm and passion for space exploration. Ollie was invited by United Launch Alliance CEO, Tory Bruno, to go and visit the ‘Space Coast’ in Cape Canaveral Florida over the Summer holiday this year. The 3 week visit included witnessing two rocket launches and meeting some of the most influential people within the Space Industry; this included 7 astronauts.

Ollie meeting the Director of Kennedy Space Centre and four time Astronaut, Bob Cabana.

Ollie meeting the Director of Kennedy Space Centre and four time astronaut, Bob Cabana.

Ollie witnessed the launch of the historic NASA Parker Solar Probe, this was being launched on the ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket. This is the second most powerful rocket currently in operation anywhere in the world. He witnessed the launch from the Atlas Spacecraft Operations Centre – at a distance of only 1.6 miles away from SLC 37B Launch Pad. Ollie was able to join a handful of space industry experts, government officials including the Vice President Mike Pence. The first launch attempt was ‘scrubbed’ at T-4 minutes, this meant coming back the following evening and finally watching the successful launch.

Delta IV as she lifted off from the pad in the early hours.

Delta IV as she lifted off from the launch pad at Cape Canaveral.

Ollie was also lucky enough to meet Parker Solar Probes’ Head Scientist, Dr. Nicola Fox, of Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. She is a British scientist who has worked on the project from the very beginning. She leads an international team of scientists and engineers to accomplish the goal ‘to touch the Sun!’ The Parker Solar Probe is the first mission to be named after a living scientist. Dr Eugene Parker first theorised the existence of solar winds in the 1950’s, these have since been proved and witnessed. The Parker Solar Probe will carry on his work over the coming decade.

Ollie made many valuable connections during his time at Cape Canaveral, for example he had the opportunity to talk to Jenny Verniero who is currently working as an intern on the Parker Solar Probe Project as a Data Analyst whilst completing on her PhD. Through the many conversations and connections made during his visit, Ollie has been offered a future place on the ULA Internship Program. He has also secured the opportunity to visit both NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Washington D.C. and Lockheed Martin in California in the next few years.

Ollie, who is part of the Gifted STEM Programme at CSIA said, “Being able to have this experience was amazing, feeling the extreme power and sounds of the rocket as it lifted off – standing next to the Vice President of the United States; the President of Lockheed Martin; the Director of Kennedy Space Centre; ULA’s Tory Bruno and top NASA Scientists and Engineers. It was just unreal!”

We’re absolutely delighted that Ollie is having such success at pursuing his dream. If you would like to find out more about the Gifted Programmes at Nexus, contact us on