Astronaut from Crowborough dies aged 61

A celebrated astronaut born in Crowborough has died at the age of 61.

Saturday, 24th December 2016, 5:10 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:24 pm
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Piers Sellers, who went to school in Seaford, revealed he was suffering from terminal pancreatic cancer in January this year.

The NASA climate scientist, who flew three space shuttle missions between 2002 and 2010, died yesterday in Houston, NASA has announced.

A former pupil of Tyttenhanger Lodge in Seaford and Cranbrook School in Kent, Dr Sellers was awarded an OBE for services to science in 2011.

His flights started when he joined the RAF in 1973 and trained to fly powered aircraft before gaining a PhD in biometeorology from the University of Leeds.

In 1982, he moved to the USA with his wife began his NASA career as a research meteorologist at the Goddard Space Flight Centre modelling climate systems.

Dr Sellers became a naturalized US citizen to become an astronaut, and was eventually selected in 1996.

On record, Dr Sellers went on to spend more than 559 hours in space, 41 of which were on spacewalks.

Known for his commitment to tackling climate change, Dr Sellers described the Earth seen from space as ‘fragile and infinitely precious’.

He went on to become deputy director of sciences and exploration at the Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland and was considered one of the foremost scientists in his field.

In a statement released yesterday, NASA administrator Charles Bolden said Dr Sellers was known for his optimism, lighthearted spirit and humour.

He wrote: “Today we lost a tremendous public servant who was dedicated to NASA, the nation and the world.

“He was a strident defender and eloquent spokesperson for our home planet, Earth.

“Spacewalker and scientist, free thinker and friend to our planet, and all who seek new knowledge, to say he will be missed would be a gross understatement.”

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