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Chch student aims for the stars

Christchurch’s Tom Marsh is one giant leap closer to realising his dream of becoming an astronaut.

Marsh, a year 13 student at Burnside High School, was selected for an International Space Camp at Nasa in Huntsville, Alabama. After just finishing the two-week programme, Marsh is as passionate as ever about becoming an astronaut.

The camp attracted 26 students from across the globe, with two students selected from each country, including Greece, Turkey, Belgium, Australia and the Netherlands. Marsh was joined by Dunedin student Ailsa Carroll.

Marsh won over his international peers on day one of the camp when he performed a haka during the opening ceremony to a packed auditorium.

“We were meant to wear flax skirts but we couldn’t get them through customs,” said Marsh.

During the course students studied team building, rocket building, mission control and simulated space safety practices.

“We had to build our own little 50cm rockets and then fire them off at the end of the week to see who had the best rocket.”

While Marsh’s team did not go so well with the final launch, they won another two challenges later in the week.

A Talented School Students Travel Award, funded by the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology and administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand, covered 97 per cent of Marsh’s trip, while his grandmother chipped in for the rest.

Marsh said the experience opened his eyes to the world of Nasa.

“I didn’t realise there was so much. I just thought there were people on the ground saying ‘the weather is fine, let’s go’, but there’s actually so much to each individual role.”

Marsh hoped to take next year off, before launching into a physics degree in 2015.

Burnside High School head of physics John Watson said if Marsh went in the right direction he could become an astronaut.

Marsh was really dedicated in his physics studies and definitely had a “bright future” ahead of him, he said.

_ Emily Spink