A leading astronaut has urged young children to choose Maths and Science in school. American astronaut Doctor Don Thomas was addressing learners from different schools around Durban on Friday.

His visit is aimed at instilling the love for Maths and Science amongst learners from a young age.

“It’s a magical world where everything floats you know it’s just a fun world to be interest zero gravity, the main reason of going in a space is to explore and I like the idea of exploring. Going somewhere where no one has ever been before, maybe seeing something that nobody has never seen and discovering new wonders up in the space.”

Learners from different schools in Durban listened attentively as Doctor Thomas told them about the excitement of being in space.

He’s been to space four times where he spent over a thousand hours. He was accepted by the American National Space Agency at the age of thirty-nine in 1994.

Now, he’s been invited to South Africa by the NGO, Living Maths, for their 2017 Space Tour. The aim is to inspire young people to work hard.

“Looks like an extremely good experience for anyone because if you think about it, it’s not something that anyone can do. Not a lot of people will get the chance to do it. At school it starts there, you have to prepare and do Maths and Science and work hard and don’t give up because it does not come easy,” says the learners.

Mbali Madlala, a grade seven learner from Adams Primary School, says after Thomas’s presentation she will consider being an astronaut.

“I learnt that in life you must never give up because every time you give up, the less chances you get of achieving your dreams. I would love to be an astronaut, before I didn’t want to be an astronaut but now I’d really love to be one because there are a lot of interesting things that I learnt from Dr Don Thomas like that in space there is no liquid.”

Thomas says to qualify for going to space you need to pass a physical examination. He says he wants to inspire learners to become mathematicians, scientists and engineers.

“I want to see humans get to planet Mars, and I’m too old to go on those missions it’s young learners today that will grow up to be the first humans in the planet Mars. So I feel like I can’t go but I can help them maybe inspire them to do something like that in the future.”

Thomas’ inaugural mission aboard the Columbia in July 1994 set the record for new flight duration of the US Space Shuttle program with 236 orbits of the Earth and six-point-one million miles travelled in more than 353 hours.