Today, May 11, South Texas Brownsville Independent School District (BISD) high school students had the opportunity to have their questions answered by SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts who are currently working at the International Space Station (ISS). BISD, South Texas Astronomical Society (STARS @STARSocietyRGV), Mitte Foundation, and the Children’s Museum of Brownsville, organized a small gathering event to watch NASA's Live ‘downlink’ broadcast of Crew-2 astronauts answering students' pre-recorded questions, following COVID-19 safety guidelines. “Linking students directly to astronauts aboard the space station provides unique, authentic experiences designed to enhance student learning, performance, and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM),” NASA stated.
SpaceX Crew-2 Mission Commander NASA Astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Crew-2 Mission Specialist ESA (European Space Agency) Astronaut Thomas Pesquet, answered BISD students’ questions Live on NASA TV this morning. The astronauts floated in microgravity as they listened to the teenagers' questions. –“How was your first experience in space?” a student asked, to which Pesquet responded, “… When I first entered the Space Station I could not believe it. […] I had a huge smile on my face the whole time. I had a good time.” –“How do you feel after the transition of gravity between space and on Earth? Physically and mentally, is it hard to readjust?” another student asked. “…I was kind of dizzy for a day or two […]” Kimbrough responded, adding that the readjusting symptoms vary for different astronauts and that it is a reason why they must exercise at the Space Station to remain strong once they return to Earth and feel gravity's weight. Ten BISD students asked multiple interesting questions that you can listen to in the video linked at the end of this article.
STARS South Texas Astronomical Society Executive Director Victor De Los Santos
City of Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez (right)
Today’s event also featured a discussion that was livestreamed exclusively for students in the South Texas region, during which former NASA Astronaut Colonel Michael Fossum shared his life story about what inspired him to become an astronaut, engineer, and now leader as the Chief Operating Officer of Texas A&M University at Galveston. He talked about his experience in space and how that changed his perspective in life. Then he offered his time to answer questions from the small audience. A TESMANIAN correspondent, Evelyn J. Arevalo (@JaneidyEve), was present at the event. She had the opportunity to ask one question to Astronaut Fossum –“What was your favorite thing to do in zero gravity?” to which he responded, “My favorite thing to do in zero gravity was practice my flying techniques,” he said. You can listen to his full response in the Tweet linked below.
NASA Astronaut Michael Fossum with STARS Executive Director Victor De Los Santos
After NASA Astronaut Fossum finished sharing his life story, STARS South Texas Astronomical Society Executive Director Victor De Los Santos (@victor_dls) moderated a panel with guest speakers, including: City of Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez, Superintendent Rene Gutiérrez, former NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory HR Director Lupita Armendáriz, Johnson Space Center engineer Alex Zamora, among other guests. They participated in a discussion panel called “NASA: Do You Have The Right Stuff?” The discussion was about a variety of subjects related to becoming an astronaut. They also shared their future plans for the Brownsville community to engage more in space-related activities in order to cultivate children to believe in themselves and be ambitious enough to chase after the stars –especially now that SpaceX is developing Starship in Brownsville's Boca Chica Beach. "...What's happening out there at Boca Chica is amazing, I don't think everyone realizes just how big it is and what monumental things are happening with society, for the world as a whole, just 25 minutes from here," Mayor Mendez said, "So, as Mayor my goal has always been to make Brownsville a destination city [...]. Geographically... is one of the best places to launch a rocket from," he said. Watch the full 3-hour event and discussion in the video below.
Watch The Brownsville NASA 'Downlink' Event & Discussions
On Tues., May 11 at 10:15am ET, students from Brownsville, Texas will have an opportunity to ask @Astro_Kimbrough & @Thom_Astro questions, and learn about science & research on the @Space_Station. How to watch the live Earth-to-space call: https://t.co/SddfNwb8T3 pic.twitter.com/jOvvfBLrcm— NASA (@NASA) May 7, 2021
NASA Astronaut Michael Fossum / All Images Source: Tesmanian.com