Astronaut engages students from space

Astronaut Kevin Ford talked to students during a broadcast from the International Space Station
BY ADAM KEMP akemp@opubco.com Published: December 1, 2012

Showing off the perks of being in space, International Space Station commander Kevin Ford did a backward somersault to end his conversation.

The maneuver generated a standing ovation from the nearly 500-member audience on the Oklahoma State University campus and perhaps inspired a few students.

Stillwater Middle School students were among those gathered at the Wes Watkins Center to viewed the broadcast from the space station, and 16 of the middle-schoolers were invited for a 25-minute question and answer session with Ford. He answered questions about sleeping in space, an astronaut's diet and how a person goes to the bathroom in space.

Cort Vanzant, a sixth-grader at Stillwater Middle School, said he thinks it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to ask an astronaut a question.

“My question was what kind of life support technologies do you have aboard the International Space Station and how long do they last because I was wondering how long they could stay up in space and how they do it,” Vanzant said. “It was truly amazing and new for me, I don't think I'll ever be able to do something like this again.”

Vanzant said he has been interested in space and astronauts since a family vacation a few years ago but he's not sure he would be suited for a job so far away from everything.

“I went to the Kennedy Space Center on a vacation once and that was really neat but even then I wasn't able to talk with an astronaut,” he said. “It would be such a cool job but I think I would chicken out the minute I saw that rocket.”

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