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Tucson elementary students talk to Endeavour crew
Question of the Day
HOUSTON (AP) - Elementary school classmates of the youngest victim of the January shootings in Tucson chatted Sunday with space shuttle Endeavour astronauts in orbit, with the shuttle commander saying their fallen classmate inspired him.
Endeavour commander Mark Kelly, the husband of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who represents a district that includes Tucson, even surprised students with a spinning-in-zero-gravity edition of their 2010-2011 Mesa Verde Mountain Lion yearbook that he took into space. It will be autographed by the entire crew.
He highlighted the pages dedicated to 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, who was killed in the shooting.
“I’ve come to admire her very much,” Kelly said, answering a question about how he got interested in space, by mentioning the fallen girl. He pointed out that he was Christina-Taylor’s age when Apollo astronauts inspired him. He went out of his way twice to mention Christina-Taylor.
For students at Mesa Verde Elementary School in Tucson, it was an unusual time to come to school: Sunday night. But it was an even more unusual school activity: Making a long distance call 216 miles straight up. They were delayed by 20 minutes of technical problems, but still got nearly half an hour of questions to Kelly and astronaut Mike Fincke.
The special educational event was set up by Kelly.
“When I was up there asking the question I had giant butterflies,” she said afterward. “I thought to myself this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, don’t mess it up.”
Rob Mejias, father of two students at the school, said: “It’s unfortunate that a tragedy had to happen for something like this to occur. It was just amazing that everyone could come together and set differences aside and be one.”
But for the kids, most of the questions were about more down-to-Earth matters. One boy’s question had Kelly finding common ground with the students calling up from Earth: he loves candy, but the rest of the food up in orbit might as well be dished out by a school cafeteria.
A boy named Corbin asked: “Does the food taste good in space?”
So Kelly, who got fed candy in zero-gravity tosses from Fincke while waiting for the technical problems to be fixed, burst the culinary bubble.
“We’ve got some M&Ms right here, those taste pretty good,” Kelly said. “The rest of it? Not so good.”
Third-grader Sophie Mejias found that funny. She could relate because she doesn’t like her school cafeteria’s hot dogs.
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