Explorers & Educators: Astronauts Dominate Headlines
Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
February 20, 1962, was a day that changed a nation and fanned the flames of the international space race. If you haven’t heard, this past Monday marked the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s monumental trip around the globe — three orbits around Earth that inspired a generation of would-be space travellers.
But that’s not all. As it turns out, astronauts have been all over the headlines this week. This time, in the name of education.
Canada’s Future ISS Commander
The UrtheCast cameras aren’t the only Canadians heading to the International Space Station (ISS) this year. Veteran astronaut and bona fide renaissance man, Chris Hadfield, will be flying to the ISS in December, and will take over as commander of the Space Station in early 2013.
Renaissance man, you ask? Not only is Hadfield a veteran space pilot, he’s also a musician — in not one, but two bands. Throughout the month of February, the astronaut side of Chris Hadfield will be virtually touring Quebec schools to educate primary school students on all things space.
Interesting Fact: According to SPACE.com, Hadfield is only the second astronaut from a country other than the U.S. or Russia to command the ISS. Needless to say, the Canadian UrtheCast team is pretty proud.
Don’t Just Inspire: Motivate
John Herrington holds the honor of being the first Native American to launch into space. As a member of Oklahoma’s Chickasaw Nation, the 53-year-old former NASA astronaut and naval officer journeyed aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour back in 2002.
As key note speaker, Herrington hopes to “motivate kids to learn math and science in the same way I was motivated—by hands-on, real-world, practical application of the stuff they would see in a textbook,” Herrington tells First Perspective.
John Glenn’s Epic Journey
When John Glenn began his ascent on the Mercury Spacecraft, Friendship 7, a Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, had already established himself as the first man in space a year earlier. In that moment of irony, Glenn’s Friendship flight sparked the infamous and heated space race.
Now, of course, the U.S. and Russia work closely on space missions and are frequent partners in dealing with the ISS.
This week, festivities were held across the U.S. to recognize America’s 50-years in orbit, bringing at least a temporary renewal of the NASA nostalgia.
As NASA describes, Glenn gave a talk at NASA’s Future Forum at Ohio State University to discuss NASA’s “past, present and future”. Along with top NASA officials, Glenn examined NASA’s role in “advancing innovation, technology, science, engineering, education and the economy”, specifically, “the importance of education to [the U.S.'s] future in space, the benefit of commercialized space technology to our economy and lives here on Earth, and the shifting roles for the public, commercial and international communities in space.”
- John Glenn now serves as a U.S. Senator.
- Not only is John Glenn a veteran of space, he’s also a veteran of WWII and the Korean War.
- Did you know that Glenn went to space a second time at the age of 77? Back in 1998, 36 years after his inaugural space mission, Glenn was taken aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery as the subject of a study on aging.
Check out some phenomenal footage of John Glenn and his mission launch here.
by Theras Wood