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Mississippi Students Talk With Astronauts At Space Station

By Rhonda Miller | Published 18 Aug 2011 09:20pm | comments
Astronauts at the International Space Station spoke via video downlink with students from three Mississippi schools.

It’s the long distance call to end all long distance calls - from Mississippi directly to the International Space Station. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports the NASA Stennis Space Center dialed up the astronauts Thursday, and they gave students a rare look into a world where everything floats.

"Station, this is Stennis Space Center. Can you hear me? Center, we’ve got you loud and clear. Welcome aboard the International Space Station." 

The call is kind of like Skype, a video phone call.  Stennis director Patrick Scheuermann explains to the students there’s a time delay when you’re speaking to people 220 miles out in space.  

"There’s a two or three second delay from the question you ask to when they can hear it, because it takes a little time to go from here to outer space," Scheuermann said.

The live downlink is thought to be the first in Mississippi. It brings the astronauts face-to- face with students, through a big video screen. Students from one Louisiana school and three Mississippi schools got to ask the astronauts questions.

“Hello, my name is Anthony, from Bay Waveland Middle School. And I have a question for Mike. What are some of the difficulties you would experience in zero gravity, I mean that you wouldn’t expect?"

"For me, the biggest surprise is how easy it is to lose things," astronaut Mike Fossum said. "When you drop something on Earth, you look around your feet.Here when you drop something, it can go in any direction, so it could go hide in a corner of the ceiling or the wall or somewhere else."

The Stennis program is designed to get students excited about math and science.  Josh Sumrall is a seventh-grader at Vancleave Middle School.

"It was awesome," Sumrall said. "I think they were cool and when he tried to do the flip thing and he kept flipping all over the place."

The flip thing was when one of the astronauts did a somersault, and because there’s no gravity, he kept going and going.  Teachers were equally impressed.  Melissa Cates teaches seventh grade science at Vancleave Middle School.

"This was a truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Cates said. "Viewing the astronauts, talking to the astronauts, show the children these are just ordinary people like us.They have worked toward goals. And if the students work toward goals, they could be up there one day."

If their goals lead to space, students may have gotten a little boost in their enthusiasm for math and science with this window into the space station and the astronauts who float around in it. 






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