A Kingston University space expert has been reaching out to the stars after lending his specialist knowledge to a major TV drama-documentary. Director of the University’s Aerospace Research Centre Dr Chris Welch has been working with the makers of BBC One series, Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets, which was broadcast earlier this month. The programme followed the fortunes of five astronauts on a six-year mission around the solar system, exposing some of the dangers they might face along the way.
Dr Welch, a principal lecturer in astronautics, was asked by show producer Chris Riley to advise on technical aspects such as spacecraft design and life support systems on a long-duration space mission. He was also a tutor at the programme’s specially created Space School, where the cast was put through a course in space flight and exploration. “I was impressed by the attention to detail shown by the producers. They were keen to produce a scientifically accurate portrayal of human expedition to the planets, including how the astronauts would grow their own food and even keep fit while in space. I also worked with the producers on the overall design of Pegasus, the spacecraft in the series,” he said.
Dr Welch spent two days briefing the cast about different aspects of day-to-day life on Pegasus and answered questions on spaceflight. “It was a privilege to be asked to brief the actors, who previously had no knowledge of astronautics, so they could give a more realistic interpretation on life on board the spacecraft,” he said. Dr Welch also featured in a supporting BBC Four documentary, The Making of Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets, where he was one of a number of experts talking about life in space.