ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico students from four different school districts got an ‘out-of-this-world’ opportunity: they had the chance to ask astronauts on the International Space Station about their jobs.
“Station, this is Houston. Are you ready for the event?”
“And Houston this is Station. We are ready for the event.”
On May 30, students from Alamogordo, Cloudcroft, Hondo, and Ruidoso School Districts got to ask two astronauts, Steve Bowen and Frank Rubio, all about the ins and outs of working and living on the International Space Station.
“The actual entire purpose of the International Space Station is to come up here and do science that will hopefully help humanity back on Earth,” said Frank Rubio, Exp. 69 Flight Engineer.
The student’s questions proved they hadn’t been ‘spacing out’ in class: “Why does the spacecraft drop parts every time you go into orbit?”
“Hi, my name is Tyler and my question is how does the Canadarm work?”
Students asked everything from, ‘how do astronauts exercise?’ to, ‘what do astronauts do for fun up on the International Space Station?’
“We’ll often have races to our next work spot as fast as possible. And we just try to enjoy it up here,” Rubio says.
This opportunity doesn’t come around every day. Tony Gondola, outreach coordinator for the New Mexico Museum of Space History, said the museum hosted this event called a ‘downlink’ once five years ago. This year, he said, “We really were trying to focus underserved communities, underserved school districts.”
He says around 21 students selected by their teachers and classmates were recorded asking their questions and getting those answers right back.
“If you think about education and inspiring students, I can’t think of anything that could be more inspiring than actually to be able to talk to an astronaut who is in space,” Gondola says,”For the students who participated, they’re going to remember that for the rest of their lives.”
The astronauts themselves, offered the students a rare glimpse into life, far above the Earth. “The whole thing’s incredible. You should come up and visit sometime,” said Steve Bowen, Exp. 69 Flight Engineer.
The New Mexico Museum of Space History says they will apply to be a part of this program again in three to four years.