Astronaut Kjell Lindgren touched down this morning at Challenger Center Hawaii to meet with 60 sixth grade students from Kaimiloa Elementary. This is the 15th year that an astronaut has visited the Center to meet with students in honor of Ellison Onizuka and the Challenger Space Shuttle Crew.
Lindgren said that it was Onizuka that helped him realize his dream.
“I’m here in celebration of Col. Ellison Onizuka who gave his life in pursuit of knowledge and exploration,” said Lindgren. “It’s people like that who inspired me, especially because I’m half Chinese.”
Lindgren, who is also board certified in emergency and aerospace medicine, encouraged the students to follow their dreams and shared his journey to becoming an astronaut, from the Air Force Academy to medical school. He flew on Expedition 44/45 and logged 141 days in space, which was part of the “One Year Mission”with Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. Lindgren’s research includes the groundbreaking “Veggie Experiment”- the first time a US crew has eaten a crop grown in orbit.
After meeting with Lindgren, students embarked on their own simulated mission to study Halley’s Comet, which was the Challenger Crew's mission in 1986. Thirteen students entered an airlock, which transported them to Space Station (SS) Campbell, while the other half of the class assisted back at Weinberg Mission Control on Earth.
“The mission simulation was a great experience. Now that I know what it’s like, I hope that I can [pursue] something related to science and astronomy,” shared Joshua Escalante, sixth grader, Kaimiloa Elementary. “Astronaut Lindgren was awesome too. He can fly in space, just imagine that. He’s a superhero!”
Challenger Center Hawaii will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next year. The goal of the Center is to educate and inspire children to develop fundamental skills while engaging in space explorations.
“We have Challenger Center alumni who are teachers now and bringing their students to experience the mission,” said Liane Kim, director, Challenge Center Hawaii. “We have been teaching Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum before it was even mainstream, before it was even an acronym.”
For information about Astronaut Kjell N. Lindgren, click here; Challenger Center Hawaii, click here; and the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, click here.