Valley Astronaut Visits Kastner Middle School

May 9, 2008 6:53:23 PM PDT
Some pretty lucky young Valley students got to meet one of America's team of astronauts. For these kids space is the place they want to be and this veteran space walker with ties to the valley suggested they join him!He began with a show and tell of his latest mission and how now so familiar on the blast off feels when you are riding the rocket. NASA Astronaut, Air Force Col. Rex Walheim told them:" At T-minus-zero you feel a bang and it shoots you off the launch pad and it shakes you quite a bit."

Walheim held students interested in science spellbound at Kastner Middle School with tales of life in space and his recent February shuttle mission saying: "When these solid rocket boosters light, these guys inside, you're going flying' whether you like it or not."

He also took time to thank the teachers who encouraged their students but his mission today was closely focused on the next generation of space explorers: " If I can do something like this, get a chance to go out in space, and go to the space station and do spacewalks they can, too."

Walheim had amazing video of the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis and told the students how he managed his 8 hour space walks for repairing and for new installations at the international space station. He also showed them the huge grin he wears while working in space: "One thing you'll see when I'm space walking there's usually a smile on my face, because it's a lot of fun"

The students had lots of questions: Taylor Ferdinandsen: "How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an astronaut? "

Students like 12 year old Taylor Ferdinandsen share his passion to reach for the stars and be an astronaut: "I'm really interested in space. I think I want to be an astrobiologist, which is studying life in space."

Walheim says go for it! His perspective of the earth has changed by seeing it from space: "You can't see the borders and, you just see a peaceful looking land from that height, from that perspective, and you realize, hey, we're all riding in the space ship together."

He's looking to the next generation of astronauts to join him in this job he considers the best on our planet.

Col. Walheim's father and brother live in Tulare County, and Joyce Aston, a family friend and teacher at Kastner, arranged for his visit to Kastner Middle School in Northeast Fresno.


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