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Monday, 4 November, 2002, 07:31 GMT
Astronaut centre plans are launched
Space shuttle taking off
Space cadets could soon be taught in Wales
A multi-million pound space academy could be landing in Swansea, if a new proposal gets the go-ahead.

Plans have been announced for the Welsh International Space Academy (Wisa) in Swansea - the first of its kind in the UK.

Planet earth
Wales can play a role in space exploration

The 10m scheme, which aims to rival facilities in the United States and Europe, incorporates a space school, visitor centre and a research programme.

The academy would be modelled on the facilities of the American space agency Nasa in Houston, Texas.

The plans are being supported by astronaut Dafydd Rhys Williams, whose family is from Bargoed, south Wales, and who was the first man to fly the Welsh flag in space.

He is Director of Space and Life Sciences for the shuttle programme.

George Abbey, whose family is from Laugharne in west Wales, is also backing the centre.

He was part of the Apollo 13 operations team and has been director of the Johnson Space Centre in Houston.

Mike King
WDA's Mike King: Key development

Announcing the proposal, the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) said Wales had a part to play in space exploration.

"Massive strides have been made in technology as a result of the space programme and Wales needs to play a role in this," said WDA Executive Director Mike King.

"The educational element of the proposal fits in with the drive to encourage innovation in Wales and get young people enthused about science and technology."

The academy would cater for all ages from primary school to postgraduate education, and would boast regular visits from astronauts.

The project would provide a huge boost for tourism in the area.

Nasa is also helping to design a visitor centre which would illustrate the history and future of space exploration.

If given the go-ahead, the complex will be located in the Port Tawe Innovation Village and its research facility will be closely linked to Swansea University.


More from south west Wales
See also:

26 Jul 02 | Wales
03 Sep 02 | Wales
13 Jun 02 | Wales
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