Jul 9 2010 by Stuart Wilson, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
A MINI book of Burns’ poetry has made a 5.7 million mile trip around Earth.
The tiny piece of history orbited the globe 217 times as part of a Scottish Space School project.
First Minister Alex Salmond was waiting to welcome the book on its landing.
Ten Scots from the University of Strathclyde took part in the unique mission.
The students handed the book to astronaut Nick Patrick in November last year on a trip to Nasa's Johnson Space Center in Texas, before he took it onboard STS-130 Endeavour in February on a two week mission to the International Space Station.
Mr Salmond said: “Robert Burns’ works have a truly global reach so it is entirely fitting that following the successful Year of Homecoming his poetry has literally travelled around the world on the mission to the International Space Station.
“I’m delighted that the book will now be displayed at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway.”
And astronaut Nick added: “It was a real honour to have met such an enthusiastic group of young people, not only to continue the inspirational work undertaken by the Scottish Space School, but to also help spread the timeless poetry of Robert Burns.”
Also present at the meeting were Professor Jim McDonald, principal of the University of Strathclyde; Heather Paul, Nasa spacesuit engineer; Hyang Lloyd, president and co-founder of the Scottish Space School Foundation USA; and Gordon McVie, outreach coordinator at the University of Strathclyde.
The book was originally presented to the Space School by Alan Archibald of the university's department of electronic and electrical engineering, who is a distant relative of Burns' wife Jean Armour and a keen supporter of the school.
It also contains a small fragment of Jean Armour's wedding dress and will be on display in the new museum.