Calling long distance

Area students speak with Space Station astronauts
Nov. 15, 2012 @ 06:49 PM


Guilford County students got an opportunity Thursday that was out of this world — literally.
As part of International Education Week, students were able to speak with NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Kevin Ford on board the International Space Station about living and working in space. Students who participated are involved in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, an on-orbit educational research opportunity that allows students to design and send experiments to the Space Station.
Questions of the astronauts included how long they are allowed to stay in space, how much control they have of the station, how they use the restroom and receive clean drinking water, how they deal with medical emergencies, and how they communicate with their families.
Williams marked her 100th day in space on Oct. 22 since lifting off in July. She said she is excited to be a part of the program and laying the foundation for future astronauts.
“The next generation of explorers are you guys,” Williams said. “We are up here to inspire you and for you to see how much fun it is to be an astronaut and be involved in developing the next generation of spacecrafts. I feel pretty honored to be a part of this because your future is huge.”
Ashka Shah, an eighth-grader from Johnson Street Global Studies, got to ask Leland Melvin, NASA’s associate administrator for education, about some of the challenges and advantages of working with astronauts from other countries. Shah is a part of a team of Johnson Street students who currently are testing a science experiment on mold growth on the Space Station through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. She was nominated by her peers to participate in the question-and-answer period.
“I was glad that I got a chance to speak with the astronaut at the Smithsonian,” Shah said. “It was really cool, and I learned a lot from all of the questions that everyone asked. It was amazing that students like us got to talk to the astronauts, and everyone doesn’t get that chance.”
Shah said she is lucky to have taken part in a science experiment out of space.
“Our experiment was just activated (Wednesday) and will last for 48 hours. It should be coming back on Sunday,” Shah said. “At this age, it is amazing that we get to participate in an event that some real scientists rarely get to do.” | 888-3657