Memorial Students Greet "Out of this World" Visitor
U.S. Astronaut Stephen Bowen visited Memorial Elementary School last week to talk to the students about the space program, reaching for the stars.
Students at Memorial Elementary School excitedly greeted a special guest last week who, quite literally, came with "out of this world" stories and advice.
U.S. Astronaut and Mission Specialist Stephen Bowen, of Cohasset, was at the school to speak to students about the NASA space program and to inspire them to reach for the stars in their own lives.
According to his NASA bio, Bowen, who began his career as in the United States Navy where he served on submarines, has been to the International Space Station on three separate missions. The first was from Nov. 14-30 in 2008 where he assisted in expanding the living quarters to allow the station to hold six members. He helped deliver and set up a new water recycling system, a new bathroom and kitchenette, two bedrooms and an exercise machine.
Bowen traveled back to the space station on the Shuttle Atlantis and stayed from May 14-26, 2010. In that mission Bowen's team delivered an "integrated Cargo Carrier" and a Russian built "Mini Research Module." During that mission Bowen logged 14 hours and 34 minutes on to spacewalks, which he undertook to install a spare antenna and a stowage platform.
Bowen returned to the space station on the Space Shuttle Discovery in the shuttle's final mission. The team stayed 13 days, from Feb. 24 to March 9, 2011. During the Discovery crew delivered the Permanent Multipurpose Module and the fourth Express Logistics Carrier to the station. The mission was accomplished in 202 Earth orbits, traveling 5.3 million miles in 307 hours and 3 minutes.
Bowen began his presentation for the Memorial students with a film featuring astronauts, himself included, having a good time in zero gravity on the space station. The astronauts flipped through the air, let food fly across the room and did some very interesting things with large drops of water suspended in the air.
"We don't normally play with our food," Bowen told the students, "but we make exceptions sometimes."
Bowen talked to the students about his time in space and the future of the space program. He said in the future NASA will focus less on low-earth orbit and will be reaching further into space, possibly going to other planets.
"When you guys are ready to go to space in 15 to 20 years the Space Station will still be there, but we may be also going to Mars," he said. "We are going to be heading deeper into space."
He also used his own experience to teach the students some life lessons. First, he spoke about the value of training, which he said makes up a majority of an astronaut's time.
"Training is very important," he said. "We train all of the time. You only get one chance to get it right in space. It's always good to be prepared and you never know what will be useful. The things you are learning in class right now may be something you will need in the future. Don't just take a test and forget what you learned."
Finally, Bowen used himself and his accomplishments to inspire the students.
"I had to work hard and study hard," he said. "You should work hard too. It is up to all of you to choose your own paths in life."