Astronaut Tim Peake praises work of Kettering satellite trackers

The front page of the Evening Telegraph on December 21, 1966, where the work of Derek Slater and the rest of the team was acknowledged

The front page of the Evening Telegraph on December 21, 1966, where the work of Derek Slater and the rest of the team was acknowledged

Astronaut Tim Peake has praised the work of a group of star-gazing Kettering teachers and pupils

The Kettering Grammar School Satellite Tracking Group is being celebrated at the National Space Centre in Leicester to mark the 50th anniversary of two teachers discovering the location of a secret Soviet launch station.

In 1966 two Kettering Grammar School teachers and a handful of keen students, using radio equipment, discovered the station in Plesetsk before the American military or intelligence services had released details.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this discovery, the National Space Centre has launched an exhibition to tell people the story of the Kettering Grammar School Satellite Tracking Group, as well as putting on display the original equipment the group used back in the 1960s to listen to cosmonauts.

Astronaut Peake, who is spending six months on the International Space Station, posted a link on his Facebook page to a website dedicated to the satellite tracking group, and added the message “Enjoy your day at the National Space Centre, Leicester!”

The centre invited Kettering schools to attend yesterday’s launch event.

Geoff Perry and Derek Slater led the first Kettering Grammar School Satellite Tracking Group.

Both men have passed away, Derek just last year after he had gifted the equipment to the centre.

Geoff’s daughter and Derek’s wife were in attendance at the launch, as well as Bob Christy, Chris Wood (Russian Navsat expert) and Marcia Smith (assistant to Dr Sheldon, author of a report to the US Library of Congress concerning the Soviet launch site).