A UK astronaut will visit the region next month to inspire the next generation of scientists.

Astrophysicist Michael Foale OBE will meet pupils from North-East schools, and speak at a public event.

Of dual British/American nationality, Dr Foale is a former NASA astronaut and a veteran of six space shuttle missions. He served as Commander of the International Space Station for six months and had a major role in saving the Russian Mir Space Station following a collision in the 1990s.

His other major achievements include bringing the Hubble Space Telescope back to life following an eight-hour spacewalk to replace components.

Dr Foale, who holds the record for the most time spent in space by a UK citizen (just over 374 days), left NASA after 26 years’ service in 2013 to work on developing an electric aircraft to advance green aviation technology.

His visit to the North-East is part of the Space Camp UK project, which is aimed at linking space science to the wider school curriculum. Thirty-five North-East primary schools are taking part in the project, working with Durham University’s Physics Department, and supported by The Shine Trust, The Stephen Hawking Foundation and The Ogden Trust.

Dr Foale will give five schools sessions and will also speak at a public event organised by Business Durham with Durham University and the International Space School Education Trust (ISSET).

This will be at the Xcel Centre, Newton Aycliffe, on Monday, June 10 from 7pm to 8pm. Tickets are priced £5.92. To book, visit eventbrite.co.uk/e/meet-an-astronaut-dr-michael-foale-tickets-60758063002

Dr Foale said: “I’m delighted to be visiting Durham again and am looking forward to meeting both students and members of the community.

“In the past, I have been impressed by the warm and friendly welcome that I have received and the technological innovation that I have witnessed in the region.”

Dr Lorraine Coghill, Ogden Science Outreach Coordinator at Durham University, said: “Michael Foale is an inspiring individual with a remarkable career at NASA behind him; and the work he is doing now to develop green aviation technology is just as important. We’re very excited to be bringing him to the North East.

“Since we launched the Space Camp UK project in the North East last year, the response from primary schools has been fantastic. So many teachers have grasped the opportunity to use the interest that many children have in Outer Space to enhance teaching right across the curriculum.”