A former Nasa astronaut visited Christel House South Africa in Wetton on Friday 13 September. Dr Don Thomas shared his experiences and interacted with the learners. He is a veteran of 692 space orbits of the earth, and his tour in Cape Town was aimed at inspiring a ‘Mars Generation’. The astronaut’s visit to the school was made possible through The Amdec Group. Shannon Mark, corporate social investment (CSI) manager of Amdec, said they were glad to be part of the space tour. “We like to build communities and focus on sports and academics to develop the youth,” he said. Mark said it was important for the company to emphasise mathematics and science to develop the next scientist, mathematician and maybe astronaut. He said Amdec wanted to reward the learners for their hard work by allowing them to meet Thomas. Noni Adams, a Grade 10 learner and aspiring astrophysicist, was the emcee at the event. Adams said he hopes to be one of the greats like Albert Einstein and leave as big a mark as the greats did. The Manenberg resident said one day he hopes to make a difference in his community and maybe that could be possible. “I am only one person so maybe if a few people come together, we could make a difference,” he said. Adams said, on Friday he had the opportunity to meet an astronaut from Nasa. “I am very excited to meet a real-life astronaut,” he said. Adams hopes to study stellar physics and interstellar phenomena, the galaxy and the black hole formation at Stellenbosch University after school. He said the popular show, The Big Bang Theory with Sheldon Cooper piqued his interested in string theory. Thomas told the learners how he got to where he is today. He was rejected thrice before Nasa accepted him and he was 39 when he made it to space. He urged the learners to be patient. “I knew it was going to be difficult because there were thousands of people applying,” he said. Thomas encouraged the learners to work hard and do their best every day. “I had a dream and a burning desire, and nothing was going to stop me,” he said. Thomas encouraged the learners to never give up and always work in school and work towards their goals. “We call upon you, the Mars Generation, to set foot on Mars. We need you to develop your skills. We need scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and mathematicians,” Thomas concluded.