Gary students over the moon after making contact with astronaut in space station

2013-05-08T19:10:00Z 2013-07-23T15:25:05Z Gary students over the moon after making contact with astronaut in space stationDeborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

GARY | A Lew Wallace STEM Academy junior was starry-eyed after asking astronaut Cmdr. Thomas Marshburn a question live from the International Space Station.

LeAndre May said he felt kind of special at being given such a unique opportunity.

"How many kids can say they spoke to an astronaut orbiting the Earth?" May said.

May was one of eight Gary school students selected to ask questions live Wednesday during a direct contact set up as part of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station program.

Students' questions were answered by Marshburn, a 52-year-old physician and NASA astronaut who is conducting research aboard the International Space Station.

The event, sponsored by the Gary Literacy Coalition and the Amateur Radio Operators, was held at the Watson Academy for Boys.

Roy Gillis, a Gary Literacy Coalition member and a local Amateur Radio Operator, said the event has been in the works for a while.

A proposal was submitted to NASA, which gave its approval for the project paid for through a partnership with the Gary Literacy Coalition and Methodist Hospitals, said Era Twyman, Gary coalition executive director.

Sixteen students in grades four through 12 were selected to ask questions.

Gillis, who directed the event, said he and fellow Amateur Radio members had set up the communication system and had been tracking the space shuttle since Tuesday.

"There should be no problems communicating with the space shuttle," Gillis told students.

Students wanted to know what exercises astronauts do while on the space craft, what degree is needed to become an astronaut and whether there will be a Mars landing in the near future.

Marshburn's responses were sometimes difficult to hear, but he answered loud and clear when a student asked him about a Mars mission.

"Definitely," Marshburn said.

DaAngelo Kidd, a sophomore at Lew Wallace STEM Academy, received a surprise answer from Marshburn when asked if astronauts age while in space.

"We're aging less fast because of relativity," Marshburn said.

Diamond Jackson, a first-grader at McCullough Academy for Girls, didn't ask a question but was spellbound by what she saw and heard.

"This will be a day I will never forget," she said.

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