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    Washington Students Speak to NASA Astronaut on International Space Station

    Washington Students Speak to NASA Astronaut on International Space Station

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Wyatt Anthony | 171212-N-VH385-0054 GIG HARBOR, Wash. (Dec. 12, 2017) Rear Adm. Gary Mayes,...... read more read more

    GIG HARBOR, Wash. (Dec. 12, 2017) -- More than 20 schools from across ten school districts in Washington participated in the West Sound Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Network NASA Downlink, Tuesday, December 12, at the Galaxy Theatre in Gig Harbor.

    During the NASA Downlink more than 1,000 students were able to watch a live stream with NASA Expedition 53 astronaut Mark T. Vande Hei, as he orbited 250 miles above Earth, at more than 17,000 miles per hours, aboard the International Space Station.

    The day started off with a video greeting from Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and then a ceremonial floor blessing performed by the students of Chief Kitsap Academy. Following this, Mackenzie Mills, a sophomore at Johns Hopkins University, gave a video greeting in which she spoke about the effect that the 2009 NASA Downlink had on her.

    During her greeting Mills said that the 2009 Downlink opened her eyes to the world of space exploration and that she has been hooked ever since.

    “I want you all to dream big,” Mills urged the more than 1,000 students in attendance. “It is important that events like these are available to students like you, who have the world at their finger-tips. If you have a goal, you can achieve it, if you have the passion to imagine it, the determination to follow it through, and the courage to believe in yourself.”

    During the downlink 18 students were given the opportunity to ask Vande Hei any question that they wanted.

    Vande Hei answered a variety of questions, ranging from, “How did your body first react physically and mentally when you first made it to space,” to “What research are you currently working on that you think will have the biggest impact in our lifetime?”

    When asked what the endless void of space feels like, Vande Hei responded, “Very big.” He then brought up his first space walk and said, “When I went outside it was and amazing experience because there was nothing between me and Earth except for my spacesuit, and then I looked away from the Earth and all I could see was blackness. It was a great sense of immensity.”

    Following the student questions Vande Hei delighted the viewers by closing the Downlink with mid-air somersaults in his zero-gravity environment.

    Organizers of the event are hoping the program will inspire students to pursue the study of fields within STEM.

    “Events like this are very rare. NASA only awards a handful of these across the country every year, so we are very excited,” said Dr. Kareen Borders, Director of STEM Instruction and Outreach for South Kitsap School District & Director of West Sound STEM Network. “Events like this [are important because] they connect students directly to STEM role models in the field.”

    The Downlink also included remarks from Rear Adm. Gary Mayes, commander Navy Region Northwest, Army Lt. Col Carol Hickey, retired Navy Capt. Chris Ferguson, Washington Congressman Derek Kilmer and Washington Senator Patty Murray.



    Date Taken: 12.12.2017
    Date Posted: 12.12.2017 18:35
    Story ID: 258561
    Location: GIG HARBOR, WA, US 

    Web Views: 153
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    Washington Students Speak to NASA Astronaut on International Space Station