Page last updated at 10:12 GMT, Saturday, 24 May 2008 11:12 UK

From Scottish roots into space

Dr Dunbar's most recent mission was in the space shuttle Endeavour

A former Nasa astronaut is to receive an honorary Open University degree in Glasgow.

It comes in recognition of her role in inspiring thousands of youngsters.

Dr Bonnie Dunbar has been a key driving force behind the establishment and ongoing development of the Careers Scotland Space School.

Dr Dunbar flew five Nasa missions, logging more than 50 days in space, but her roots are in Scotland - both her grandparents emigrated to the US.

The Space School has given opportunities to school pupils to meet Nasa astronauts and scientists, with the aim of motivating them to engage with science.

Interviewed for a Nasa oral history project about why she had become interested in space, she said she needed to look at her family's "philosophies".

She added: "My grandparents had emigrated from Scotland and homesteaded in Oregon so I had a grandfather that I knew till he was 92.

Dr Bonnie Dunbar
Dr Dunbar on a visit to Brae High School in Shetland
"He would always talk about the horizons; why he emigrated to the United States so he could own his own soil; (he) was a great kind of adventuring mind, and education was the key to the world, and you should learn to read and do as much as you can in terms of learning."

Currently president and chief executive officer of the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Dr Dunbar has recently retired from the Nasa Johnson Space Centre in Houston.

She served as the payload commander on two flights, including the first space shuttle docking mission to the Russian space station Mir.

Dr Dunbar already has an honorary degree from Dundee University and she is a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Every year students from schools across Scotland take part in the Space School programme.

A number of young people are then selected to attend a 10-day Space School in Nasa's Space Centre in Houston, Texas.

Space School founder up for award
24 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Pupils attend Nasa space school
10 Jun 04 |  Scotland

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