We’d been delighted to creatively support the event and there were no shortage of studio volunteers to spend an evening in an unlikely Rotherham location, given the expected presence of the ‘Jump from Space’ man himself, Felix Baumgartner and his colleagues, the legendary Joe Kittinger and Art Thompson.
And of course, not forgetting Yorkshire’s very own Helen Sharman, the first British person in space as well as Anu Ojha, the Director of Education and Space Communications at the National Space Centre. It was a stellar line-up.
We arrived just in the nick of time to be greeted by an awe-inspiring countdown video on the big screen. The Stratos event team had worked audio-visual wonders to really transplant the 150 or so attendees back to the capsule environment in October 2012.
Helen Sharman was first on stage and spoke passionately about her career journey to become an astronaut. What a story. And what a role model for women, Helen is.
There was no relenting in quality and Anu Ojha is as fine a speaker as I have ever heard. Intelligent, articulate and engaging, primarily through the medium of on-stage ‘scientific magic’. Anu really knows to how get an audience excited about the opportunities space presents for mankind. But mostly we loved the simple demonstrations of the impact of pressure on marshmallows and water!
After a short-break for a buffet style dinner, it was time to welcome the Stratos team to the stage in an interview format with the lovely Sarah Cruddas.
Felix Baumgartner has the aura of a man who wrote history. There’s a touch of an arrogant streak but in fairness, probably a necessary personality trait to achieve what he did. It was a joy to watch Felix and Joe interact (like father and son), bonded by the common strand of mankind-inspiring bravado. Joe, 87 years old today, had created his own records over 50 years ago and is an ex-Vietnam prisoner of war. He warmed the heart.
To further defend Felix, the entire team stopped around for as long as it took to sign autographs, shake hands and say hello. Absolute legends and an honour to meet them all.
Without question, the most inspiring event I’ve ever been to and I’d highly recommend the exhibition to tap into what it must have felt like, ready to leap from space. Or not quite space, as Anu, technically pointed out.