SPOKANE, Wash. - Students from across the greater Spokane area got a virtual visit from a very special Gonzaga Prep alum on Wednesday.
"It is insane, we just got to talk to an astronaut, that is representing America in space and who went to my school," said Gonzaga Prep student Erin Dougherty. "That could be me someday, I could do something like that."
Anne McClain, former Bullpup turned NASA astronaut, spoke to students through video chat from the International Space Station. Students had the chance to ask McClain questions about her time in space and career at NASA. She told them about her training, what life is like without gravity and how she exercises and sleeps in space.
McClain is currently on a six-month mission on the ISS. She is one of three astronauts completing research investigations and technology demonstrations not possible on earth.
McClain’s journey to space has been no easy feat. After graduating from Gonzaga Prep, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical/Aeronautical Engineering from West Point. She was commissioned as an Army officer in 2002 and immediately started graduated school. McClain then earned a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering in Bath, England and a Master of Science degree in International Relations from the University of Bristol.
Wednesday's presentation was a special one for McClain, her mother was in attendance and said she could tell she was excited.
Some of the questions asked included topics like space trash and the impact of micro-gravity on plant growth.
Students got the answers right from the source.
"Those are great questions, because we are studying plants in space right now and learning more," McClain said. "Plants are good for the air, and also to supplement our diets with leafy greens."
McClain said that better understanding plants in space is important for future missions to Mars.
"We are hit by debris quite frequently," McClain said. "Usually its the the size of less than a centimeter, and those collissions are fast at the speed of sound."
McClain joined NASA in 2013 when she was selected as one of eight people to join the 21st astronaut class.
McClain and her crew are set to land back on earth at the beginning of June.
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