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Washington Students to Speak with NASA Astronaut on Space Station Today

Mark Vande Hei, Expedition 53 Flight Engineer
View of Mark Vande Hei, Expedition 53 Flight Engineer, inspecting the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) for upcoming Extravehicular Activity. Credits: NASA

Students from nine school districts in Port Orchard, Washington, will speak with a NASA astronaut living, working and doing research aboard the International Space Station at 12:10 p.m. EST today. The 20-minute, Earth-to-space call will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Students will travel to Gig Harbor, Washington, for the call to Expedition 54 astronaut Mark Vande Hei. They’ll have the opportunity to ask questions about life aboard the space station, NASA’s deep space exploration plans, and doing research in space.

Vande Hei arrived at the space station on Sept. 12 on his first space mission, and is scheduled to return to Earth in February 2018.

All nine school districts are in the West Sound STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Network, which was selected through a competitive process to host a downlink with the station. West Sound STEM Network is a dynamic collaboration of educators, business leaders and representative from local government and the military, working to introduce and link students, teachers, and the community to the vast array of STEM resources in their region.

Students across the participating districts prepared for the event by studying the space station, astronaut biographies, and the current research and activities being conducted aboard the space station. More than 1,200 attendees are expected to be on-site at Gig Harbor during the downlink.

Media interested in attending the event should contact Kareen Borders via email at or phone at 360-874-7059. Galaxy Theatres in Gig Harbor will host the event at 4649 Point Fosdick Drive NW.

Linking students directly to astronauts aboard the space station provides unique, authentic experiences designed to enhance student learning, performance and interest in STEM. This in-flight education downlink is an integral component of NASA’s Year of Education on Station which provides extensive space station-related resources and opportunities to students and educators.

Follow the astronauts on social media:

See videos and lesson plans highlighting research on the International Space Station at:


Katherine Brown
Headquarters, Washington
Nicole Cloutier-Lemasters
Johnson Space Center, Houston