A SIXTH-FORM student from Ysgol Bro Dinefwr is heading to Houston to take part in a NASA Space School, with support from Swansea University, which has strong links with Texas.
Ffion James, 17, will be part of a group of 50 students from over 20 countries taking part in the NASA-run programme, which started last Sunday (Jul 23) and runs until Monday, August 7.
The theme of the summer school is ’A Manned Mission to Mars’. Students will be assigned to teams looking at different aspects of planning a space mission to the red planet: mission control, operations, transit, habitation, and exploration.
While at the summer school, students will be taught by aerospace experts. They will also get a chance to tour the Johnson Space Center, the Space Center Houston, and other science and technology organisations.
They will also link up with the International Space Station, and take part in a teleconference on life sciences, bio-astronautics, and aerospace medicine at a university Ffion, who is currently studying for her AS levels at Ysgol Bro Dinefwr, said that her love of space went back many years: “I’ve always been fascinated by stars especially – there’s something peaceful yet dangerous about them.”
“I got my love of Star Trek from my dad! I always loved problem-solving and puzzles, and I used to save up my Christmas and birthday money to buy telescopes.
“I’ve already been to the NASA launch site at Cape Kennedy three times. I’ve spoken to people involved in the missions, which really inspired me.”
The work started for Ffion long before the summer school begins. As part of her preparations she has to complete tests and exams set by NASA. Ffion and her fellow students are already in touch on social media, before they all travel to Houston. Once in Texas, they will all be staying with host families, many of whom work with NASA and the aerospace industry.
Ffion explained the kind of challenges she will face as part of the curriculum: “NASA wants to be international, with close links for example between the US and Russia on the International Space Station. So one of the big issues they have to address is language and cultural differences.
“We’ll have to face this at the summer school. We have to work in teams, and we’ll have to establish a way of communicating between people who don’t have the same language.”
Ffion added that her dream job would be to be working in the space industry, sorting out problems at ground level:
“I’ve always been a problem-solver, so I’d be very interested in areas such as working out the most efficient flight trajectories.
”I study ethics at the moment, and so I’m also fascinated by ethical questions to do with space travel. Is it right to expose travellers to Mars to high radiation levels on what would be a three-year journey? Would humans still be humans if they adapted to life on Mars? What are the ethics of people ageing at a different rate, as would be the case if they were on Mars?”
As well as grappling with these weighty ethical questions, Ffion said that she was also looking forward to experiencing life in the US, learning about other cultures, adding that top of her wish list for souvenirs was the famous Texan cowboy hats.
Swansea University has a strategic partnership with several top-ranking universities in Texas, including several in Houston. These links are already bringing benefits such as student exchange schemes and joint research collaborations, in areas from arts and humanities to nanotechnology.
Dr Caroline Coleman-Davies, who manages Swansea University’s Texas Partnership, said: “The University’s links with Texas go from strength to strength, with students and researchers seeing the benefit.
“It is always great to see local students seeking to broaden their horizons, so we are delighted to support Ffion’s success in winning a place at the NASA Summer School.”
Ascona Group announces new Car and Truck wash facilities
ASCONA GROUP, one of the UK’s fastest-growing forecourt operators, is pleased to announce two new vehicle washing partnerships as part of improvements to its unique roadside retail proposition across its forecourt estate.
As part of a new partnership with the American based PDQ Manufacturing, a leader for in-bay automatic vehicle washing facilities, Ascona Group will be the first in the UK to install the ‘Laserwash 360 Plus’, a touchless car wash system for its customers.
The partnership will initially expand the wash options at the Hinton Service Station, with a view to roll out the system to other sites under the Ascona Group’s brand, ‘Charlie’s Express Car Wash’ later this year. The partnership is a significant investment for Ascona and demonstrates its commitment to ever improving the experience for customers.
Ascona Group is also delighted to announce a strategic partnership with WashTec UK that will see Ascona introduce a ‘First of its Kind’ truck washing facility at the Tenby Road site on the A40 Eastbound in Carmarthenshire, which offers the very best technology available to HGV drivers.
The truck wash employs a fully ‘closed loop’ total water recycling system, the first of its kind in Wales, which recovers all water used within the wash process, filtering it for reuse with little or no water entering the mains drainage system. This system ensures Ascona not only has the best commercial wash in South Wales, but also offers customers one of the more environmentally friendly approaches in operation.
Commenting on the announcement, CEO Darren Briggs said: “From the very beginning, we knew that our sites must present our customers with a unique and compelling offer which is why we are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to improve our roadside retail facilities.
“These two new partnerships further demonstrate our focus on creating industry-leading propositions and we are really excited to be working with PDQ Manufacturing USA and WashTec UK. Together, we are keen to continue to build on the success of these new operations and we are actively reviewing multiple opportunities across the Ascona portfolio to roll out more units such as these.”
Nearly £50,000 of National Lottery funding for community groups in Carmarthenshire
FIVE local community organisations across Carmarthenshire are celebrating after being awarded a share of £49,575 of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund over the past month.
One successful project was MolTân Makers who will use their £9,820 grant to provide metal working workshops for people wishing to improve their mental health and well-being. The group will reach out to mental health groups and the wider community and also allow people to reconnect with the community following the pandemic.
One participant with MolTân Makers explained, “ The course was professionally run by four hard-working people who helped us with one to one tuition when needed. They were so welcoming and adaptable to individual needs and allowed me to attend the course at different hours due to health reasons.
“They were great company and created an interesting and positive atmosphere to help people with mental and physical health problems feel included and understood and we all took home what we made in the course.”
The Hangout received £10,000 and will help young people improve their mental health and wellbeing through structured outdoor activity programmes. The project will build on a previous pilot project that led to more young people becoming re-engaged in school following the pandemic and continuing to volunteer with the group after the initial sessions finished.
The Alternative Learning Company in Llanelli were awarded £9,955 and will recycle plastic bottles to build full size greenhouses. They will propagate plants for growing schemes in local schools and communities. The project will reduce the levels of plastic sent to landfill or polluting open spaces, and give young people an understanding of the impact of climate change.
Newcastle Emlyn Town Council will build an outdoor structure in collaboration with the community, to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee. This £10,000 grant will fund building and design materials, and a water harvesting kit.
Messy Projects will use their £9,800 grant to run the activities and events they missed due to the pandemic. Activities will include celebrating the Queens platinum jubilee, a BBQ, and a Bonfire party.
John Rose, Wales Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said “These groups play a vital role in supporting their communities and these grants will allow them to continue being there for people in future.
”National Lottery players raise more than £30 million each week for good causes across the UK and the projects funded over the past month show the crucial difference players make through their tickets. I look forward to following all of their progress.”
Family of power station worker calls on former colleagues to help with asbestos claim
THE WIFE of a Carmarthenshire man, who was just 66 when he died of an asbestos-related cancer, is calling on colleagues who worked with him in the 1970s to help understand where and how he contracted the disease.
Peter Colton, from Llanelli, died in July 2021 after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma.
He worked as a conveyor and weighbridge operator for the CEGB at Carmarthen Bay Power Station. During his time at the power station, his duties included offloading coal wagons and conveying coal to the boilers.
It is possible that Mr Colton was exposed to asbestos during those years and now his family has sought the help of local asbestos specialists J.M Parsons, to investigate a claim for compensation.
Ann Colton, Mr Colton’s wife, wants answers. She said: “Peter was diagnosed with mesothelioma and died just six weeks later. He had been suffering from shortness of breath and just had no quality of life.
“It was devastating to see someone who had been so healthy and active slowly get worse and worse. We just want to know where and how he was exposed to asbestos and hope someone out there can help us.”
According to data from the Health and Safety Executive, annual mesothelioma deaths in Britain increased steeply over the last 50 years, a consequence of mainly occupational asbestos exposures that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos during 1950-1980.
Amanda Jones is one of the specialists at J.M Parsons, which is owned by Thompsons Solicitors. Thompsons has paved the way for asbestos litigation in the UK ever since it brought about the first successful asbestos disease claim to the House of Lords in 1972, 50 years ago.
She said: “We would be grateful to hear from anyone who remembers working with Peter Colton in Carmarthen Bay Power Station in the 1970s or anyone who worked in the same field as Peter beyond the 1970s.
“Such individuals will be invaluable to Mr Colton’s family as they may be able to add important information that will assist us in building a civil claim. We hope that we will then be able to answer questions about the conditions that Mr Colton worked in during his working life.”
Anyone with information should contact Amanda Jones on 01554 779940, or via email at email@example.com.
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