14/06/2018 10:47 BST | Updated 14/06/2018 10:47 BST

SA Teens First in Africa To Attend International Space Conference

Three South African learners shared their knowledge about spacecraft propulsion with club members and guests on May 30.

Pictured left to right are: Dr Bettye Walker, DG Cozette Vergari, Chantal Mbala, Skylar Martin, Dene Castles, President Judy Delavigne, and Dr Hal Walker, President of the Cape Town Space Society, a Chapter of the National Space Society and the first on the African Continent.

Three Mzansi high school pupils recently became the first Africans to attend the International Space Development Conference in the U.S.

Dene Castle, a Grade 10 pupil, Chantal Mbala, also in Grade 10, and Skylar Martin, a Grade 8 learner, shared their knowledge about spacecraft propulsion with Rotary club members and guests on May 30.

Their presentation included a prototype of their "Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket" (VASIMR), which was exhibited at the conference.

The trip was made possible by the Rotary Club, specifically STEM director and Rotarian Bettye Walker and laser scientist Hildreth "Hal" Walker.


The pair promotes science and technology to students from townships near Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town. They have also mentored thousands of students through the A-MAN South Africa Science Center programme they established in 2002.

In 1969, Walker led the team that shot a pulse of concentrated coherent light towards the moon, aimed at a mirror placed on the lunar surface earlier by Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong.