Orbiting Earth means sunrises and sunsets every 45 minutes, astronaut says

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Scobee Education Center hosts live chat with International Space Station.

By Kyle R. Cotton

kcotton11@student.alamo.edu

Astronaut Mark Kelly introduces Dr. Kjell Lindgren and his twin brother Capt. Scott Kelly aboard the International Space Station, Thursday in McAllister. Scott Kelly and Lindgren are orbiting the planet at 17,500 MPH, the equivalent of 5 miles per second. The live chat with the astronauts was hosted by the Scobee Education Center. Photo by Kyle R. Cotton.

Astronaut Mark Kelly introduces Dr. Kjell Lindgren and his twin brother Capt. Scott Kelly aboard the International Space Station, Thursday in McAllister. Scott Kelly and Lindgren are orbiting the planet at 17,500 MPH, the equivalent of 5 miles per second. The live chat with the astronauts was hosted by the Scobee Education Center. Photo by Kyle R. Cotton.

Orbiting the planet at about 5 miles per second 220 miles above the Earth’s surface, seeing a sunrise or sunset every 45 minutes and working out for two hours each day with equipment to prevent floating off the treadmill is all in a day’s work for astronaut Scott Kelly.

Thursday morning in McAllister Fine Arts Center, Scott Kelly, along with fellow astronaut Kjell Lindgren took part in a live chat with students, faculty and visitors from around the country as part of the final day of the Challenger Center’s 2015 annual conference in San Antonio.

“Life aboard the International Space Station (means) you’re constantly working. They work from when they get up until the hour before they have to go back to sleep,” said former astronaut Kent Rominger. “We’re very lucky that they are spending some of their valuable time with us today.”

The two astronauts were introduced by Capt. Mark Kelly, Scott Kelly’s twin brother.

Scott and Mark Kelly are currently part of NASA’s Twin Study, which examines the human body’s adjustment to time in space, a study that will serve to help with longer space travel.

The most notable questions Scott Kelly was asked were, “What is it like to always look out to the Earth everyday?” and “What first inspired you to want to be an astronaut?”

“You never really get tired of looking at the Earth from up here,” Scott Kelly said. “The one thing you notice from up here is that there are no borders outside of the natural ones that serve as ones, and because of that you really get the sense that we are children of the world.

“The other thing you notice is just how thin our atmosphere really is, and you can tell which countries pollute the most by how thin it is in that respect region,” he continued. “It’s the thinnest over China, and when we pass over it we can never see the ground through all pollution.

“The thing is I never really thought about being an astronaut until one of my grade school classmates said he wanted to be one. When he said it, I said, ‘You know what I didn’t think about that, I’m going to be an astronaut too,’ to which he replied, ‘You can’t be an astronaut too because I’m going to be an astronaut.’ And here I am.”

Scott Kelly said that this was about promoting science, technology, engineering and math, known collectively as STEM, and getting children to know the importance of math and science.

Michael Hawes, Lockheed Martin Space Systems vice president, said, “It’s the children in this room that will be a part who will get to be part of Orion’s crew, and will get to travel farther than anyone has before.”

Orion is NASA’s next generation spacecraft designed with the ultimate goal of landing on asteroids and Mars, which Lockheed Martin is helping build.

Astronaut Joe Acaba gave a presentation on stage based on his experience in traveling and working on the International Space Station.

Acaba said that the hardest thing to get use to is sleeping in what they call the vertical position.

He said that this was because people are used to having pressure on their chests from blankets and gravity.

Aboard the space station, astronauts sleep in cocoon-like sleeping bags hanging from the wall.

To close his presentation, Acaba said, “I’m jealous of you guys because it’s the kids of today who will be the ones who will be walking on Mars.”

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