Saturday, December 02, 2006

Saltburn lad space bound

A robotics expert from the North-East is about to realise the dream of a lifetime. Dr Nicholas Patrick, born in Saltburn, will become only the fourth Briton to go into outer space when he blasts off in the space shuttle Discovery from the Kennedy Space Centre, in Florida, next week. His mission is to rewire the electrical systems of the International Space Station.
The 42-year-old explained how the flight will be the realisation of a dream that was born as he watched the Apollo 11 moon landing on television as a child in Saltburn. Although there were many other things which caught his imagination as he was growing up - an archaeologist, a boat designer - Apollo 11 left a lasting impression and the one thing that really stuck with him throughout his childhood was the idea of becoming an astronaut.
Dr Patrick, who became a US citizen in 1994, was cleared for launch next week, as Nasa gave final approval for its most complex shuttle mission in years. The astronaut and his six crew mates are spending the days before the launch in quarantine to avoid illness.
His wife, Rossana, a doctor, and their children will be at the Cape Canaveral space centre to watch the launch, with Dr Patrick's parents, Stewart and Gillian who, like their son, now live in the US.
Dr Patrick was designing jet engines and cockpits in the United States, before being recruited by NASA. He started training as an astronaut in 1998. "The real key is to find the things you love and pursue those, and your interests will carry you," is his advice to any aspiring spacemen or women.

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