Piers Sellers, a British-born astronaut and scientist, died on Friday morning at the age of 61. Sellers flew on three space missions logging 35 days in space during the three Nasa shuttle missions between 2002 and 2010. A Nasa spokesman said that he died peacefully in Houston of Pancreatic Cancer.
Dr Sellers was born in Crowborough in East Sussex and was a graduate of the Universities of Leeds and Edinburgh prior to moving to the USA, where he subsequently gained American citizenship, in his bid to fulfil his childhood dream of flying into space.
But not only was he a space pioneer he was also a great spokesman on the effects of global warming, spending much of his life working extremely hard to save the planet for the benefit of future generations, which included a role in Leonardo DiCaprio’s climate change documentary earlier this year.
Dr Sellers also wrote an emotional article for the New York Times about his cancer diagnosis and In July he was awarded Nasa’s Distinguished Service Medal, the agency’s highest honour,
Nasa administrator Charles Bolden led the tributes to Dr Sellers, calling him “a tremendous public servant who was dedicated to Nasa, the nation and the world”.
Bolden added: “He was a strident defender and eloquent spokesperson for our home planet, Earth.
“Spacewalker and scientist, free thinker and friend to our planet, and all who seek new knowledge, to say he will be missed would be a gross understatement.”
Dr Sellers was appointed an OBE in the 2011 New Year’s Honours List.