Cal State L.A. answers call from NASA astronauts
It’s not every day that you get a call from outer space, but that’s what happened on Feb. 20 when Cal State L.A. hosted a video conference with astronauts on the International Space Station.
Hundreds of college and high school students attended the televised downlink in the University-Student Union Theatre to ask NASA flight engineers Rick Mastracchio, Mike Hopkins and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata about the progress of their mission, conducting experiments in space, hygiene maintenance in zero gravity and how the crew members spend leisure time.
The live event was organized as part of NASA’s Destination Station, a multimedia exhibit at the California Science Center that shows what life is like aboard the space station.
Cal State L.A. was honored to be the only Southern California site to host NASA’s Destination Station program.
“Our students were thrilled to have the opportunity to speak directly with astronauts floating 230 miles above us,” says Emily Allen, dean of the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology. “The experience reinforced our reputation as a campus that places high value on getting young people ready to participate in the next generation of science and engineering—whether on the ground, under the oceans, or in space.”
Located in Earth’s lower orbit, the International Space Station serves as a research laboratory where astronauts from around the world conduct experiments in human health and exploration, technology testing for enabling future exploration, research in basic life and physical sciences, and Earth and space science.
The six-member crew of Expedition 38, which began in November 2013 and ended March 12, performed experiments on liquid movement in microgravity, plant biology and human health management for long duration space travel.
The 20-minute call was part of an effort by NASA to spark students’ interest in science and engineering so that they might one day follow in the footsteps of alumnus Samuel T. Durrance (’72,’74 M.S.), a scientist who flew aboard two NASA space shuttle missions.