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On November 1st, 2017, Liberty High School students had an exclusive chance to have a private conversation with a NASA astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Colonel Mark Vande Hei.

Colonel Mark T. Vande Hei aboard the ISS

Colonel Mark T. Vande Hei is a NASA astronaut and a Lieutenant Colonel for the Army. He has graduated from prestigious universities such as Stanford University with a master’s degree in Applied Physics. Vande Hei transitioned to NASA from the Army. Being chosen as an astronaut, he went through intense programs training for the ISS and Soyuz programs. Through 2012 and 2013, he worked as an Astronaut Office Director of Operations in Russia. On September 12, 2017, Mark Vande Hei along with two other astronauts boarded the Soyuz (Russian) spacecraft and flew to the ISS.

Colonel Mark T. Vande Hei

I was lucky enough to be one of the people selected to attend the event. This               experience opened a new perspective for me. Inside the Kibo module of the ISS Col. Vande Hei spoke with our group at Liberty High School. The application of Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) not only applies to Earth, but to space. Scientists and engineers have applied these fields to get people into space. The air was casual yet formal, everybody around me was itching with excitement as he went online. As a young woman who wants to pursue a career in engineering, this only adds fuel to my motivation. I would love to create a rocket or capsule for an astronaut to board in the future to their expedition to Mars. He communicated with us while floating, and a wrench also floated by. He also discussed how he navigates throughout the ISS.

I was one of seventy-five students that were selected to attend the event, along with twenty questions. From the Kibo module, students got to ask him questions ranging from the daily routine to current innovations. Students asked Col. Vande Hei many questions. Some students asked about the view from the Station. He responded with descriptions of the Earth; the blue-green sea of the Caribbean and a fog, disguised as a glacier. Mark even opened a window for us. Some asked about life in space. He described his spacewalks, the daily routine, and various experiments conducted in a zero-gravity environment. He also answered questions about the application of physics in space. Many also asked how training was like for an astronaut. It didn’t just involve physical training, but also learning languages, like Russian. Mark also talked about the education requirements for future astronauts, which included a degree in physics and good physical health, so you could be able to withstand the hardships of space.

Colonel Mark T. Vande Hei

Many students in LHS are aspiring to be engineers, astronauts, and scientists hoping to change the world for the better. The astronauts at the ISS are an amazing example of people who change the world. Col. Mark’s experiences opened our eyes to many opportunities. This conference was a huge leap in experience for the students of Liberty High School.


 Here are some thoughts of a few attendees:


From Tellie Fackelman, 9th Grade

-Why did you want to experience this event?

“I wanted to talk to the person who made an impact on the world for the better.”

-What question would you have asked Mark?

“How did you become interested in this field of work?”

-What did you take away from this experience?

“An overwhelming sense of awe and inspiration.”

-Did this experience inspire you to pursue a STEM career? If you are already pursuing it, what did this experience add?

“That’s what I’ve wanted to do, but it reinforced the idea that there are so many opportunities that come from STEM.”

Colonel Mark T. Vande Hei


From Kiara Walker, 9th Grade

-Why did you want to experience this event?

“Because space is cool, and I’ve always loved stars, planets, and the ISS.

-What question would you have asked Mark?

“What does it feel like to sleep in space?”

-What did you take away from this experience?

“A sense of wonder, inspiration, and a need to experience being in space myself.”

-Did this experience inspire you to pursue a STEM career? If you are already pursuing it, what did this experience add?

It has inspired me to pursue space further than I would’ve gone.”





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