Former PhD student to feature in new BBC 2 Astronaut series

The 12 candidates taking part in `Astronauts: have you got what it takes?’ (Jackie is 5th from the right)

A former student who gained her PhD, Masters and undergraduate degrees from the University has been chosen to take part in a new BBC series `Astronauts: have you got what it takes?’, which launches on Sunday.

Jackie Bell, who graduated with a PhD in fundamental particle physics in 2016, is one of 12 candidates, chosen from thousands of applicants, who are put through a series of gruelling physical, mental and psychological tests to see if they’ve got the qualities needed to become an astronaut.

During the series, the candidates had access to astronaut training facilities around the world including the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. The winning candidate receives the backing of astronaut and former Commander of the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield, for their application when the space agencies next take on recruits.

Jackie, who is from Walton in North Liverpool, also gained a Master’s degree in Mathematical Sciences and a first-class Bachelor’s Degree in Maths from the University and was awarded two John Lennon Memorial Scholarships to support her studies.

Jackie said: “My PhD training put me in good stead for taking part in this programme having taught me how to think about situations and analyse problems in different ways.

“It has been a childhood dream of mine to be an astronaut but I never thought I’d achieve it as I’d never seen a Scouser in space, except for Craig Charles in my favourite show Red Dwarf.”

Alongside her academic work, she also set up and ran a government funded project encouraging children and families from deprived areas in the city to get into science, demonstrating her interest and passion for science communication.

Jackie currently works as a science communicator for the British Science Association and has previously worked for the Science Museum in London.

Find out how Jackie gets on in the first episode of the series which will be aired on Sunday, 20 August at 9pm.

A trailer for the series is available to watch:

Jackie’s profile for the programme which references her studies at the University is here:

`Astronauts: have you got what it takes?’ is broadcast on Sunday evenings on BBC 2 at 9pm starting on 20 August and runs for six weeks.


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