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Archive for Thursday, April 12, 2007

Local astronaut shares out-of-this-world insight

April 12, 2007

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Astronaut Steve Hawley

In front of a projection of the moon, Steven Hawley tells about life as an astronaut at Lawrence High School. Hawley, a native Kansan and Kansas University graduate, encouraged LHS students to study the math and sciences on Wednesday.

In front of a projection of the moon, Steven Hawley tells about life as an astronaut at Lawrence High School. Hawley, a native Kansan and Kansas University graduate, encouraged LHS students to study the math and sciences on Wednesday.

LHS students receives words of wisdom from astronaut

Some encouraging words today to local high school students from a former NASA astronaut. Enlarge video

Retired NASA astronaut Steve Hawley knows the quirks of living several days in space.

When the 1973 Kansas University graduate who grew up in Salina talks to high school students and science teachers, they often ask about the food in space, the sleeping situation and what it's like to live in zero gravity.

A group of 130 Lawrence High School science students asked similar questions Wednesday morning, and Hawley provided detailed answers.

He has flown five NASA missions between 1984 and 1999 and logged 770 hours and 27 minutes in space.

As the current director of space science at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Hawley speaks to Kansas students about how they can fulfill their dreams if they have a strong work ethic.

"We are on the verge of perhaps losing some of our leadership in the development of new scientists and engineers to other countries, and I'd like to see American kids get re-energized on the interest and fun of science and engineering," Hawley said.

He showed the students a video of his five-day mission on the STS-93 Columbia in February 1999.

Lawrence High seniors Samantha Pedraza, Jessica Sims Gousse and Spencer Chapin all say they plan to pursue some kind of engineering study next year in college, and they were interested in the oddities of space flight as they watched astronauts float on screen.

"Zero gravity: It looked pretty cool," Sims Gousse said.

U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, whose district includes eastern Lawrence, said he has brought Hawley to speak to students in his district for the past six years because of his ability to excite and inspire them. Moore said that the United States is the world's only superpower now but that China and India are starting to develop and educate more students in science and math disciplines.

Hawley also will be inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on May 5. On Wednesday morning, he told the Lawrence students about how he tightly strapped himself in a sleeping bag before dozing off in space instead of trying to sleep without restriction in zero gravity.

"I kept thinking I'd always wake up wondering if I was about to hit something," Hawley said as the students laughed.


Astronaut to be awarded

Five Kansas University alumni from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will be honored during the Deans Club Banquet at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Adams Alumni Center.Award winners are Notre Dame University Provost Thomas G. Burish; astronaut Steve Hawley; Syracuse University distinguished public administration professor Rosemary O'Leary; Genomic Health Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Randy Scott; and poet and Texas Christian University professor B.H. "Pete" Fairchild.

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