Last week, Croydon High School hosted an event to celebrate the resounding success of Mission Aspiration, which saw a team of students from the school’s Astrogazers Club collaborate with the University of Bath to become the first UK school to send two weather balloons into space. The weather balloons were launched 32,000 metres into space and successfully retrieved images of the Earth. Alongside the celebrations, the gathering also marked the official unveiling of Astrogazers’ new mission, Mission Pegasus. 


The event was attended by a diverse audience, including family and friends of Astrogazers, Croydon High staff, professionals from universities and the space industry, as well as Jason Perry, Executive Mayor of Croydon. Notable guests included Professor Cathryn Mitchell, Dr. Robert Watson, and Clare Cambridge from the University of Bath, who shared their reflections on the success of Mission Aspiration, underscoring the significance of hands-on learning experiences in STEAM education.


Mrs. Arabi Karteepan, Head of Physics at Croydon High School, Director of Astrogazers and recent winner of the RAS award for further and Higher Education said: “I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power that hands-on learning experiences can play in boosting our girls’ confidence and fostering an early passion for not only space science, but all STEAM subjects. I have had an influx of educators asking for guidance on running similar projects, and it has been very rewarding to share these unique learning experiences which empower girls to see themselves as capable and competent contributors to the field. After launching two high-altitude meteorological balloons into space, the next goal for Astrogazers is to become the first UK school to launch a CubeSat (satellite) into low earth orbit.


Jason Perry, Executive Mayor of Croydon, said: “I was really inspired by my visit to Croydon High School Astrogazers Club… Physics teacher Mrs Arabi Karteepan, who recently won the Royal Astronomical Society’s Secondary and Further Education Award for the Mission Aspiration project, spoke passionately about her childhood dream of going into space and I eagerly look forward to their next mission.” 


Ms. Annabel Davies, Head of Croydon High School, opened the event with an inspiring speech, highlighting the achievements of Astrogazers and reaffirming Croydon High’s dedication to fostering STEAM opportunities for girls.


Chrissie Hillyer, Business Development at Spirent Communications, leading global provider of automated testing and assurance solutions for networks, security and positioning, and Astrogazers Club sponsor said: “Astrogazers are truly an inspirational group to all women globally. Their passion, motivation and enthusiasm towards space science and pushing the boundaries of research through their inquisitive minds makes Spirent proud to be sponsors and partners of the group. With the balloon launch proving a huge success, we can’t wait to see what they can achieve with Mission Pegasus. The sky really isn’t the limit with these girls – and I doubt the ionosphere will be either!


Other esteemed guests at the celebration included Professor Gemma Attrill from The Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (Dstl) Space Systems Programme, Professor Andrew Coates from Mullard Space Science Laboratory – University College London, Professor Keith Ryden, Head of Surrey Space Centre, Vinita Marwaha Madill, Founder of Rocket Women, Mission Control Space Services and Vanessa Viney – Innovations Manager at Airbus, Lucinda Offer from the Royal Astronomical Society, Graham Cluber from Croydon Astronomical Society, as well as Helen Forrest and Rachel Wiffen from Innoval Technology.

(Still from video footage captured from the Payload at 32,380 metres)