HOW do you make a rocket fly? And how do balloons filled with helium get up into space?
Youngsters got the chance to find out the answers to those questions and more, when they were invited to go to Astrium in Portsmouth for the day yesterday.
It was a ‘bring your children to work’ day, and saw around 145 young people see what their parents do at the Broad Oak site.
They saw millions of pounds worth of satellite payloads being built, watched as scientists and engineers in Astrium’s cleanroom laboratories made minute circuit boards out of gold, and got to go in rooms which are normally kept well closed off to the general public.
The man who came up with the idea to hold such an event was James Hinds, payload product manager for Astrium, who also hosted the how to design and build a satellite workshop.
He said: ‘I’ve done something similar to this in the past to encourage young people to experience what we do here and get a wider exposure.’
A similar family day was run at Astrium’s site in Stevenage earlier this year, but James said that had only a small influence on yesterday’s event in Portsmouth.
He said: ‘More importantly it is an opportunity to really showcase what we do so our families can see, showing them what we do at work and also showing what Great Britain can do, because we are a British firm working in Europe.’
The youngsters were given goodie-bags containing kites, pens, wristbands and posters when they left, excited about what they had learned.
Nine-year-old Evan Watson was fascinated about the financial side of the business, where satellite payloads worth a combined total of up to £1bn can be stored on site.
He said: ‘It’s quite weird to know how much money everything is.’
Meanwhile his friend Evan Smith, 11, said his favourite part was learning how to build a space craft.
‘I really liked that,’ he said.
And Blue Singleton, whose mum Debbie is PA to the site director, cheekily said: ‘I really liked helping my mum do all the paperwork.’