Not many people know that Milton Keynes has played an important role in the UK’s space exploration efforts over the past few decades. Due to our town’s contributions to the space effort, we have been granted a very special opportunity to send something that represents Milton Keynes to the International Space Station (ISS). After countless council meetings, discussions in Parliament and general local consensus, councillors have nominated one of our concrete cows to become the first bovine and modern sculpture to take permanent residence in the ISS.
Following the sad news that the Midsummer Oak Tree has passed away and will be removed from the Intu shopping centre later this month, the concrete cows are set for an exciting move to a new home at the Milton Keynes Museum. Knowing that the cows were looking for a new home, Milton Keynes council drafted a proposal late in 2015 in partnership with the Open University to secure one of the concrete cows for a first-of-its-kind expedition into space.
The Open University, home to the department of Planetary and Space Sciences has a long standing past with making history in space. First under founding member, the late Colin Trevor Pillinger, the OU devised the famous “Beagle 2” landing spacecraft which was sent all the way to Mars in 2003.
In May 2016, works of art from around the world will be taking up home on the International Space Centre commissioned by astronaut in situ, Tim Peake.
One of our beloved concrete cows will be making the epic 250 mile journey off the surface of the planet and will match the velocity, altitude and inclination of the ISS before securely docking with the space station. There, a team of art enthusiastic astronauts will be waiting to unpack and display the concrete cow where it will remain in situ until the cows come home. Speaking with Sky news last week, Tim Peake who is in the middle of his six month stint on board the ISS said “We feel extremely privileged to become caretakers of some of the finest pieces of art our planet Earth has to offer. Being from the UK, I am especially looking forward to meeting one of Milton Keynes’ famous concrete cows. I hope whichever cow is selected, they go through their pre-flight medical and can handle a life without gravity (or grass)”.
So which cow is going to make this unforgettable journey? In the next week residents of Milton Keynes will be called to the polling stations but for a very different non-political type of vote, to decide which of the cows we are nominating to send to Space.
Will it be one of the adults or one of the calves?
Do you think the ISS deserves to take one of our precious concrete cows into Space?
Is this a waste of money to have art on the International Space Station?
Can cows survive in Space?
What do you think?
I’m sure all you’ve been hearing for days is that a partial solar eclipse was going to occur in the skies above the UK today. The last one happened sixteen years ago in the summer of 1999 when I was just sixteen and quite ignorant of what was happening. I did not want to miss it this time around.
Whether you were watching it unfold on live television or stood outside trying not to burn your retinas out by looking directly at the sun (ouch) you have to admit it was a sight to behold. The television feeds gave you the incredible shots of the super moon appearing to come across and block out most of the sun at approximately 9:30am (the time did depend on your location) or if like me you stood outside and saw and felt what happened which was an experience I can only describe as eerie.
From the beginning of the eclipse at 8:30am Milton Keynes was covered in a false twilight cover of light, the birds were quiet and the air grew colder and colder.
Whether you are a space nut or not. You can’t deny witnessing an act of nature so much bigger than our own existence made you feel small and humble in the universe. I envy the people who witnessed the eclipse at The Faroe Islands north of the UK where they were plunged into darkness. My parents were lucky enough to be there for it and I really can’t wait to see what photographs they might have captured.
The next one is going to occur on the 12th August 2026. A whole eleven years to wait. Quite scary to think by then what age we will be and what life has in store for us, until next time.