Astronauts and cosmonauts visit FISD schools

Three astronauts and cosmonauts visited Friendswood ISD campuses on Wednesday, Oct. 16 as a part of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) Community Day. The ASE is an international nonprofit professional group and educational organization that strives to bring together astronaut/cosmonaut delegates from all over the world for educational purposes. The group currently has approximately 400 astronauts and cosmonauts from 38 nations. FISD had the pleasure of hosting three of these space explorers.

Colonel Kenneth Cameron and Lieutenant Colonel Alesksandar Aleksandrov visited Bales, Cline and Friendswood High School while Colonel John Fabian visited Westwood, Friendswood Junior High and Windsong. Cameron is a retired American naval aviator, test pilot, engineer, U.S. Marine Corps officer, and NASA astronaut.  A veteran of three space flights, Cameron has logged over 561 hours in space. Aleksandrov is a retired Bulgarian Air Force officer and research cosmonaut. He is the second Bulgarian to have flown to space.  On June 7, 1988, Aleksandrov launched aboard TM-5 and spent just under 10 days in space. Fabian is a former NASA astronaut, Air Force officer, and director who flew two Space Shuttle missions and worked on the development of the Shuttle’s robotic arm. Fabian later led the Air Force’s space operations.

Students were able to hear fascinating tales from these special visitors, ask questions and participate in STEM-related activities with them. The students’ eyes gleamed with fascination as they received answers to their questions about how fast a rocket travels, muscle deterioration in space and how one uses the restroom when there is not any gravity (naturally, the kids burst into laughter when this was asked).

While speaking to FJH students, Fabian recalled one of his fondest memories from the first time he launched into space.

“I remember looking out at the horizon just before we launched and seeing all of the people there to watch us leave for our mission,” he said. “After we took off, it took only eight-and-a-half minutes to get to space, and I remember looking out the window and seeing the coast of Africa. Eight-and-a-half minutes. It was incredible.”

Another special moment during the visit occurred at Friendswood High School after Aleksandrov’s translator had to leave. Because Aleksandrov could not speak English, the presentation may not have been able to go on, but FHS senior Masha Larina who speaks Russian was able to step in and translate for him. Those watching called the situation “amazing.”

FISD officials said they are incredibly grateful to the ASE for this opportunity for their students to have learning that is not just “out of the blue,” but “out of this world.”