School Kids Get to Talk to Live Astronauts Via Satellite

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Caitlin Jordan is an eighth grader at Pearl River Central. She dreams of becoming a scientist one day, controlling drones in space. Jordan says, "I think it would be fun. I love astronomy. I’d love to go explore space, but instead of being an astronaut, I want to be a programmer."

Students like Jordan were invited to the Infinity Science Center to talk with astronauts live from space, in hopes of spiking their interest in exploration. John Wilson, Executive Director of Infinity Science Center, says, "You know, going to the moon is difficult. It’s 250,000 or so miles away, and Mars is millions of miles away, so that challenge is quite daunting, but a generation that’s growing up today might make the first boot prints on Mars."

The students, ranging from 4th to 8th grade, asked 20 questions to the astronauts, such as what it’s like to live on the International Space Station. G. Reid Wiseman, a N.A.S.A. astronaut, says, "First of all, it’s extremely difficult, because everything floats around and then once you get over the fact, it’s very tough. As you can see with Commander Swanson, it’s the biggest jungle gym. It’s the most fun place you can ever work."

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The students got to see an actual replica of the space module, Destiny, where the astronauts broadcasted from on Tuesday. It’s equipped with their work station and also where they sleep. The students also got the chance to participate in science experiments around the center. Chris Copeland, Education Specialist as Infinity Science Center, says, "We had a cryogenic presentation where we’re using liquid nitrogen, which is negative 321 degrees below zero, so the kids got to see how we use liquid fuels to power our engines."

Jordan closes, "They showed us how an engine works like in the turbine. It was really cool. It was loud, but really cool." While Jordan is only experiencing space via TV, there’s always the hope in years to come that she will be the one educating other hopeful children like her, who would like to explore space.