A unique virtual reality adventure that will put youngsters in the hot seat of a real-life descent from space is heading to the National College for Nuclear next month, thanks to the REACT Foundation.

Year nine students from across West Cumbria will hop on board Samsung’s Space Descent with Tim Peake Virtual Reality Experience Tour Bus on May 14 to experience the thrill of retracing his 400km journey back to Earth.

Using the latest Samsung VR technology to get a 360 degree look inside Tim’s space capsule, the immersive experience will complement a REACT Foundation project being run at Cockermouth School, Westlakes Academy in Egremont and the Energy Coast UTC at Lillyhall.

Teams of students have been challenged to design and build a device attached to a weather balloon and record video footage of Cumbria from 40,000 metres above, collecting other scientific data as it makes the ascent from space into the higher reaches of the atmosphere.

The on-board experience will be captured on camera before being uploaded to virtual reality headsets, giving students the sensation of ‘riding’ on their own balloon creation.

Pete Woolaghan, chairman of the REACT Foundation, said the experience was a way of inspiring young people to take an interest in STEM subjects as part of the charity’s 15th anniversary celebrations.

He said: "We felt we had to pull out all the stops for an out of this world experience. Honouring the moon landing 50 years ago, and Cumbria’s own small part in the UK space programme through the testing of Blue Streak at RAF Spadeadam in the late 1950s, we believe the VR bus and the other events taking place on the day will be incredible and should allow students an inspirational peek at STEM careers in the space industry.”

Chris Nattress, Lakes College principal, added: “We are delighted to be able to host such a fantastic event here at Lakes College and the National College for Nuclear in partnership with REACT.

“STEM skills are hugely important in our area; supporting events like this are essential in inspiring the next generation of engineers, scientists (and perhaps even astronauts)!"