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Amateur Space Radio

Season 1Episode 251Jul 1, 2022

Courtney Black describes the amateur radio program that connects astronauts in space to people and students around the globe. HWHAP Episode 251.

Houston We Have a Podcast Ep. 251 Amateur Space Radio

Houston We Have a Podcast Ep. 251 Amateur Space Radio

From Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars, explore the world of human spaceflight with NASA each week on the official podcast of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Listen to in-depth conversations with the astronauts, scientists and engineers who make it possible.

On Episode 251, Courtney Black describes the amateur radio program that connects astronauts in space to people and students around the globe. This episode was recorded on May 27, 2022.

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Gary Jordan (Host): Houston, we have a podcast! Welcome to the official podcast of the NASA Johnson Space Center, Episode 251, “Amateur Space Radio.” I’m Gary Jordan, I’ll be your host today. On this podcast we bring in the experts, scientists, engineers, and astronauts, all to let you know what’s going on in the world of human spaceflight. Along with jam-packed days of science and maintenance, astronauts aboard the International Space Station dedicate some time to connect with people on Earth. It can be by an IP (internet protocol) phone to call a family member, a televised event to connect with media, or even amateur radio to connect with students. Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, or ARISS, helps create education opportunities that inspire students to pursue careers in STEM-related fields – -that’s engineering, math, science, or technology — by having the opportunity to talk to crew members on orbit. Today, we hear the story of a former teacher who has seen first-hand how ARISS communication impacts students’ lives here on Earth, and how important this program is for future generations of space explorers. Courtney Black is an education project manager with the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory. Before joining the National Lab, Black served as a formal educator for 14 years, educating elementary to high school students. Her passion for incorporating space education in lessons earned her recognition among her peers and allowed for students to participate in once in a lifetime opportunities, such as ARISS contacts and a downlink with the International Space Station. Black is a Space Station Ambassador, a Solar System Ambassador, teacher liaison to the Space Foundation, Space Center Houston SEEC (Space Educator Expedition Crew) crew member, and an education, an educator member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Civil Air Patrol. Black has presented at multiple conferences and is excited to continue presenting on topics to help bring awareness and encourage utilization of a myriad of resources available which aim to improve life on Earth through the investigation and exploration of space. And of course, we’re very excited to have her share these resources on today’s episode of Houston We Have a Podcast. So let’s get right into it. Enjoy.


Host: Courtney Black, thanks so much for coming on Houston We Have a Podcast today.

Courtney Black: Thank you so much for having me. I’m just delighted to be here and talk about ARISS.

Host: [Laughter] It’s a cool program and you have an interesting path to, to get to the program as, as an educator for quite some time. Do you mind starting there, just how, how, how you were in the, an education profession and what led you to where you are today?

Courtney Black: Absolutely. I was, I’ve been an educator for this is probably 16 years, I still consider myself an educator, but I’m not a formal educator. I left the classroom about two years ago. But about seven or eight years ago, I had always been a space enthusiast — living in Florida, I think it’s kind of obligatory. But I really got involved in the space educator community, first through the teacher liaison program that the Space Foundation offers and then through the SEEC crew at Space Center Houston. And during this time I’d heard about these educators hosting an ARISS contact, and I thought, how cool to let your students ask questions to an astronaut aboard the International Space Station, live? So I would bebop up to these ARISS representatives and I’m like, I want to host an ARISS contact; and they’re like, OK, great, what’s your equipment like, and I just kind of smile at them because that was, the technical part was something I hadn’t really considered. So in the fall of 2017, the school district of Lee County was approached by Fort Myers Amateur Radio Club and Century, who also has their own amateur [club]. And they said, hey, we’d love ARISS contact but we need a teacher to help write the proposal and facilitate the program. And I’d all but written the proposal in my mind, I knew I wanted to do our year in space and do one activity a month that would focus on space exploration and space education. So the school district had heard from me multiple times about this opportunity, and so when the Fort Myers Amateur Radio Club approached the school district, they’re like, we have just the teacher, she won’t leave us alone. So the stars kind of aligned. They put us into contact and it really, everything just fell into place. And we got multiple letters of support and it was actually the first ARISS contact in southwest Florida. And I think the tri-county area, which was Lee County, Collier County and Hendry County. So that was really an exciting thing for us. So that’s kind of how I got started. And then our ARISS contact took place in October of 2018.

Host: OK. OK. Well, you seem very passionate overall, just about, you, like, you talked about, you know, you won’t leave, you won’t leave these folks alone. But, but I think it, it comes from a place of passion. You really want to, you really want to connect with students. Have you always had that sort of passion for, for education and for, for STEM learning or anything like that? Is that, where does that come from?

Courtney Black: Absolutely. And I think that that passion comes from my students. I was always interested in space, but I don’t, I think it wasn’t until I saw how it ignited their passions that I realized, space inspires: it reaches everyone, you know, you, you don’t have to necessarily be in a STEM field to admire space; you can be a, a space artist. And when I started seeing this interest from them, it ignited my passion. So I started seeking more opportunities and more resources and more lessons. And how can I take my standards that I have to teach in my classroom and relate it back to space? And that really ignited their passion, which in turn ignited mine.

Host: Yeah. When I, I, you put, you put forward a lot of work, you seemed like you had, you had some, this, this idea that space can, can excite people. So you put forward the work to, to make that connection. Tell, tell me about that moment when you made the, when you actually organized everything and you heard the voice from space and, and what was happening with your students, were their faces lighting up? What was that moment like?

Courtney Black: Oh, that was, that was pretty neat. It was a little bit terrifying at the same time, especially since there was a little bit of an equipment problem aboard station so it took a little longer than expected for Dr. [Serena] Auñón-Chancellor to come onto the air. Just, all you heard was static for a few minutes and we kept calling the station and we didn’t hear anything, but as soon as we heard, “this is the ISS,” we weren’t allowed to scream because we were live so, and we, I taught at a deaf and hard of hearing school so we taught everyone in the audience how to applaud, applaud in sign language.

Host: Very cool.

Courtney Black: So everyone started applauding in sign language, and it was just, it was very neat. And the funny thing is, is that the whole contact happened so fast. I could hardly remember the answers to the questions, so it wasn’t until that night I went back and watched the recording of it that I really got just a profound sense of appreciation for Dr. Auñón-Chancellor and her efforts. She did a phenomenal job.

Host: That is awesome. That is awesome. Well, it obviously sparked something in you, right, because, because you ended up pursuing, working eventually for the ISS National Lab. So, so what got you there?

Courtney Black: Well, probably, I guess it was the spring of 2020 when everything had shut down. We had actually one of the last video downlinks with the ISS that I hosted for my school district, and that was February 27, 2020, and March 13 was the last day of school before spring break and I went into my principal’s office and I said, I have a feeling I’m not going to see you for a while. And sure enough, everything shut down and I got pretty good at this remote learning and remote education and remote teaching. And it was a lot of fun, but I was like, you know what, I don’t feel so exhausted at the end of the year; I’d like to do something this summer. And I saw a posting for an internship with the International Space Station National Lab. Now, we have a Space Station Ambassadors Program that I had been involved with for about five years, so I was well-versed in their programs and what they offered. So I felt like it was just a natural fit. I’m like, oh, I’d love to do that. A summer job. Yeah. This can be my side gig. So I reached out and I said, hey, I, I know it says that you’re only looking for teachers in Melbourne, the Brevard County area, but would you consider someone who was remote? I have technology we can use, and I, I think it would be, you know, work out just fine. And they said, actually we were just discussing that, that it could be a remote position. So I started in June of 2020, and by August as I was getting ready to go back into the classroom, they said, hey, we might have a full-time position open later in the fall, would you be interested in applying? And I thought about it for about half a second and I’m like, absolutely, yes. I didn’t think anything would take me out of the classroom because I just love teaching that much, but the fact that I get to work directly with educators now and all of our partner programs, including ARISS, was just, this is my dream job.

Host: Well, congratulations. You sound very excited about where you are right now.

Courtney Black: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a great organization and there’s so much that we do that really impacts educators and students, not only through the U.S. but across the globe.

Host: Lots of stuff. And of course, the, the, what we’re going to be talking about today is ARISS. This, this amateur radio program. Now, you are very passionate about it, you had your own experience, but, but let’s kind of dive into what this, what this effort is all about and then how folks can, can really, can really be a part of it. So let’s, let’s start at the very top, Courtney, where, what is ARISS?

Courtney Black: ARISS stands for Amateur Radio on the International Space Station. It was the first STEM payload aboard the ISS, and I know that they’re working to be the first STEM payload on our other space stations that are being planned and developed right now. They host about a hundred contacts each year and of those contacts usually they reach about an audience of 200 students — 200,000 students — that are directly engaged, and then 12 million who are listeners. So it’s a really far-reaching program. But kind of the most exciting thing is that they really only have two full-time employees. So they have $5 million of in-kind volunteer support every year, including the educators that host the downlink to the astronauts that donate their crew time. So it’s really kind of a program from the heart that no one’s getting rich off ARISS, and we want to continue to make sure it’s free so there, there, we work here at the National Lab to make sure that educators are aware of this program. The amateur radio clubs that partner with schools and organizations also donate their time, as well as supply the equipment. When we did our ARISS contact, all the equipment was built and supplied by the Fort Myers Amateur Radio Club as well as CenturyLink Amateur Radio Club. They partnered together and provided everything. So it was really cool to see how that community came around to rally around this one event.

Host: Yeah, very, very community-oriented. You got; you got a lot of volunteers that are helping, it sounds like. And, and I wonder what, what, what exactly is it, how do you take these, these volunteers? What, and what is their tasks to help ARISS actually be successful?

Courtney Black: Well, their tasks to help ARISS be successful, the educator kind of writes that education plan and what they’re going to do. The ARISS contact is designed to be, for lack of a better term, the cherry on the cake…the pinnacle of an, of an existing education program, to make students more aware. We know that its impact is a lot deeper when we can have something as a culminating event. If they have a 10-minute ARISS contact where they talk to an astronaut, it may be something that is just as easily forgotten 10 minutes later. But when they work towards something and you learn about what ham radio is and how it’s used, not only on the International Space Station but in instances of emergency — when other forms of communication are no longer working, we still have ham radio. So when students start learning about all the things that are involved and they become aware of the difference between a direct contact when the ISS is passing right overhead and a Telebridge contact where you bounce the signal off multiple satellites to get to the ISS, it really builds a depth of knowledge for students, not only about space exploration but how we communicate.

Host: Wow. Now, now, how we communicate I think is an interesting one when it comes to amateur radio, right, because that’s like, I’m going to pull back even more, because we’re talking about this, this program, Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, but, but amateur radio is sort of its own thing now…

Courtney Black: Yeah.

Host:…what, what exactly is that, am, amateur radio?

Courtney Black: Amateur radio typically is a club of individuals that are ham radio enthusiasts. You have to be licensed to be a ham radio operator, and in order to be licensed you have to complete courses and a test. So I got involved with the amateur radio club after they’d approached the school district to do an ARISS contact. And the more I learned about this community, it’s a really tight-knit community, and about the ways that they make contact with different states and countries using satellites, and using this rather rudimentary tech, technology — you know, our cell phones are probably a little more complicated, but when cell service goes down, what do we do? So we still depend heavily on satellites for our cell phones. And so does ham radio when trying to communicate.

Host: So does that mean all the astronauts and all the students that participate in that have to be licensed, or what necessarily are the rules and guidelines for, for how we connect these folks?

Courtney Black: Oh yeah. Great question. All the astronauts are licensed, but the students don’t have to be, they just have to learn about the proper protocol and procedure. Now, many of them do choose to become certified later. I, I can’t tell you how impactful this was for so many of my students, and I keep, still keep in contact with several of them. So it really has inspired, and I believe she did go on to get her ham radio license. But the only people that have to have the radio license are the astronaut and then your technical point of contact. Now, Brian Darley was the head of the ARISS contact for Lee County as far as the technical POC (point of contact), and I was the educa, educational POC. And he was fantastic. And I, in fact, I still stay in touch with him. They’re hosting the second ARISS contact in Lee County again this October, so I’m going to go down and support that. It’s at a different school than I taught at, but it is still in Lee County and they’re super excited.

Host: Very cool. Very cool. Now, you know, when it comes to the events themselves, right, you, you’re connecting astronauts, you’re connecting students; how exactly does that work: how much, how much time do you have, what’s the structure of a typical amateur radio connection? Like if I were to, if I were to go into an amateur radio connection with the space station, what, what exactly would that look like?

Courtney Black: Well, the, you get your week a few months in advance. You know what week that the contact will take place, but because of scheduling you don’t know the exact day or time till about one week beforehand. So you will get notification: this is your astronaut that you will be speaking to, this is the timeframe, and this is the day that it will occur. And now it’s only about a 10-minute timeframe because the ISS is moving so fast overhead that that’s the only time it’s within range if you’re doing a direct contact. So you have about 10 minutes. Now, with our ARISS contact, there was a technical issue that I didn’t know about beforehand, and I’m so glad I didn’t because I was already nervous enough, not just for me but for the students that were nervous. Even though, we’d practiced and trained for months about proper protocol and radio etiquette, they still had those jitters. We had a room full of people from the district, different news crews there. So it was a well-covered event, but, the actual normal radio that’s aboard the ISS broke minutes before our contact. So Dr. Auñón-Chancellor pulled out the backup radio, which was really just a glorified walkie-talkie; she pulled that out and she did the entire ARISS contact on this walkie-talkie. And so it cut down our ARISS contact by about a minute and a half because it wasn’t as strong, it’s not as powerful of a radio so it didn’t have quite the reach that the standard radio had, but she still got through all 21 questions in eight and a half minutes. And she was so clear, and she enunciated, and she was so thoughtful in her responses that it really had a huge impact. So everybody backstage and, and the recording at the very end, our school district recorded it, and we had a big screen up and at the very end of our ARISS contact I said, hey, I want you to see everybody who was involved. You see all the kids out here. And we raised the screen and almost the entire radio club was up on the stage that had supported the event. And afterwards they said, Ryan [Krenzischek], who was one of our, ARISS con, or our ARISS representative, came up to me and said, hey, you guys did great; the main radio broke — you guys, she did that whole contact on this backup radio that was just a glorified walkie-talkie. So I’m like, I’m so glad you didn’t tell me that beforehand. But it was, it was really a cool experience.

Host: Yeah. That’s, that’s something to remember. Not only just, you know, that, that whole thing of the issues and, and all of that, but it sounds like for, just for those couple of minutes that you had with, with Dr. Auñón-Chancellor, that you were preparing for quite some time. You, you mentioned, did you say weeks or months of, of preparation of getting the protocol with the kids? So that’s, that’s a long, that’s a long time. That’s a big investment…

Courtney Black: Yeah.

Host:…for, for, for a moment.

Courtney Black: It, it is a big investment and, and more so for the kids…

Host: Yeah.

Courtney Black:…because a lot of them, we, we opened up the application to the entire school district. The school district of Lee County, I believe it’s the ninth largest in Florida, and they have over a hundred-thousand students. So it’s, it’s a pretty good size school district. And I felt like it would be great to open up this opportunity to my school, which was Allen Park Elementary school, but I’m like, how much better would it be to open this opportunity up to all the schools and all the students? So we put out the call, and sent out to all the science teachers, this call for applications. Students applied through a Google form, and they uploaded a quick video using Flipgrid, so that I could make sure that they could be understood and they could speak loudly and clearly, we practiced that even in the application, and those applications were submitted in May. And I believe we had a pretty quick turnaround because we wanted them to be able to practice over the summer. So before school let out we notified all, I believe it was 21 students who were selected.

Host: Wow.

Courtney Black: And we knew that that was kind of ambitious because that’s a 10-minute window: a lot of times, you know, astronauts don’t get through all the questions, and there are kids that are profoundly disappointed because they had worked up to this for so many months. So we had our selection in June and we practiced monthly leading up to, and then I think every week for the month before, until October.

Host: Wow. But that, all the more reason that it’s, that Dr. Auñón-Chancellor deserves all the accolades, because she was able to, even with the time to get the backup radio, she was able to get through all those questions in such a short amount of time, and sounds like you didn’t really have any, any disappointed faces in that room that day.

Courtney Black: Not at all. In fact, it was just pure elation, you know, on, on the face of the kids. And I even went back and re-watched the video at, last night and I was like, wow, that was a really cool event. And you’re right, Dr. Chancellor — Auñón-Chancellor — was just such a pro[fessional]. You can tell that she just has that ability to think on her feet quickly, respond quickly, and that probably makes her not only an excellent doctor but an excellent astronaut.

Host: Oh, for sure, without question. Now, now, I think, I think what’s, what’s also apparent here is the reach of the program, right? So, so it sounds like you, you’ve been invested in it for a couple of years now, but, but it’s, but the program has been around for quite some time. And it sounds like it’s grown and, and you’re able to connect a lot of students from a lot of different locations. Can you talk a little bit about that, about the, the beginning of ARISS and, and how, how it’s grown from where it started to where it is today?

Courtney Black: Yeah. ARISS was one of the first payloads aboard the International Space Station. And since its inception in December of 2000, it has, an ARISS contact has taken place in 49 out of all 50 states and 63 countries around the world. So that reach alone is really impressive. Each year they have about a hundred ARISS contacts and those ARISS contacts reach directly about a quarter of a million youth. Additionally, the audience is between 12 to 15 million. Countries as far as Japan and Russia and Canada and countries throughout Europe have participated in ARISS context. So it’s a really cool program that reaches so many and not just in the United States but across the world.

Host: Yeah. That’s, that’s a huge reach, Courtney, and, and I think what’s, what’s very telling about that is, because I’m going back to your description about the investment that you and, that you and your school made and getting everyone to learn about amateur radio and, and form the questions and everything. And, and what’s going through my head is, for sure, you’re not the only school to do that. All of these different schools around the world and these students are doing the same thing and they’re not only learning about amateur radio, but they’re investing time and learning about, and learning about space. Science, technology, engineering, math; they want to form good questions, right? So, so I think what’s, what’s nice about this program is not, not only the reach, but it gets, it gets kids excited and interested in, in wanting to form new questions. I wonder if you saw that in your school. So not only the, the training of the, of, of, of getting the students ready for the amateur radio, but did you dedicate a lot of time to investing in, in what is the International Space Station, and, and why is science important in space, so that the kids can form really good questions?

Courtney Black: Yeah, absolutely. That was integral to making sure that these questions were not just, you know, how does it feel to float in space? Although that is a great question because this is something that kids want to know about. But it, usually, you have between six months, six to 12 months, in your educational plan, and that six to 12 months it really does take a village because I can do things in my classroom that only impact my students, but if I open it up to the entire school or the school district and encourage everyone to participate in mission X’s walk to the Moon, train like an astronaut, walk to the Moon challenge, to talk about the distance to the Moon, you know, and all these kids are running around with their pedometers so that they have an understanding of how far the Moon is, and then relatively, how close the ISS orbits the Earth, all these things kind of culminate into a body of knowledge that these students didn’t have before. And not only did I rely heavily on my coworkers at the school, but also other educators that had hosted an ARISS contact, because they had the experience that I didn’t have. They were like, make sure they have cue cards; it doesn’t matter, the most prepared kids that memorizes their question can go blank on the spot. So make sure they have cue cards, and it also helps them to have something to hold onto so they’re not as nervous. So those tips, you know, and those tricks of the trade, were so important to that successful ARISS contact. And I was so impressed with the caliber of questions that the kids came up with. And I actually let them come up with their questions because it didn’t make any sense for me to give them a list, I wanted to know what they were curious about.

Host: Yes. Yeah, absolutely. And, and you’re making it, you, this program helps all of these other, you know, all of these other schools, students in, in the United States and across the world be just as successful whenever they get that chance to, to speak with an astronaut. And I wanted to, to, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate just, just the space station itself because you men, you mentioned this is one of the first payloads, particularly one of the first STEM-related and education-related payloads on the International Space Station, so we’ve been doing it a long time because the space station’s been there a long time. It’s been continuously inhabited for, for more than 21 years now. It’s, it’s a long time, it’s a long time. So, so taking a look at the space station and what it’s provided as a platform to continuously connect with students, and this continuation has allowed a program like ARISS to grow because it hasn’t stopped, right, there’s, there’s never been, there’s never been a moment, just to celebrate that, the, the importance of having continuous habitation in, in low-Earth orbit.

Courtney Black: Yeah, absolutely. Some of the STEM payloads on the ISS continue to just inspire me. You know, everything from cancer research to how do muscles atrophy, they have a Worms in Space program that they’re working on and it’s through Orion’s Quest for students to learn about. So it really gave students ownership of the International Space Station because they knew that there were payloads on there that were dedicated just for them and their learning, and how that they can leverage that science and apply it to the everyday life. Most kids know someone who’s been affected by cancer and the fact that they’re doing cancer research and turning it into a program that is educational for youth, is very important to them and it’s impactful. So I think that, you know, the ISS is just a symbol of how nations get together and work cooperatively. It is just such an amazing human endeavor, and the fact that youth feel like they’re a part of that endeavor has an impact long beyond I think the life of the station and will continue on to when we have new space stations from private space organizations, and eventually Gateway.

Host: See, that’s interesting because that’s, that’s where I was going with that, was, was the space station, of course, you know, we’re already thinking about what’s next, right? You talked about commercial stations, you talked about Gateway, and at the very beginning when we started this conversation, Courtney, you mentioned that, that ARISS is looking towards the future. And even as, like one of the, one of the, I guess older forms of, of communication being amateur radio, it still seems to have a place in the future, which is, which is very exciting. So can you talk about some of the things you’re looking forward to for, for continuing to have these ham radio connections for the long term in space?

Courtney Black: Absolutely. I think that you’re right about ham radio being something that, you know, my grandfather did. I can remember him with his CB (citizen’s band) radio in his car driving down the road in Tennessee. And I can remember thinking, wow, we still use that? And here we are in 2022, thinking about the end of station, which will probably be in the next, you know, 10 to 15 years, and looking towards what’s next. How do we continue to communicate, not only in space, but on Earth when the technology we have doesn’t work? So yes, ARISS has two, I believe full-time employees, but, through them and through their network of volunteers they’re already positioning themselves to be the first on Gateway and all the other space stations, because they know how important it is to keep those lines of communication open, especially when other forms may fail. So it’s really exciting to see how this program is not only, you know, continuing to exist, but getting ready to really grow because with multiple space stations they’re going to need more astronauts that are certified ham radio operators and may be able to host, instead of, you know, a hundred contacts each year, maybe they can do 500 contacts each year, which is really exciting stuff.

Host: Oh, yeah. Just, just keep on growing. There’s no shame in that. Absolutely. The bigger the reach, the better. So I wonder, we’ll leave you with this, Courtney, is, is it seems like, you’re, you’re coming into the ISS National Lab and it seems like you’re really excited about the different opportunities there. And I, and I wanted to, just ask, just what are you most excited about, just, just in general? It’s, you’re, you, you’ve been, you’ve been very involved in, in the, in the world of space and, and communications and, and STEM education for a while. But, but you’re getting into this, this, this new world, right, after being an educator and, and leaving the classroom, but a lot of, a lot of exciting opportunities. There was something, you said you thought about it at the very beginning of our talk, you, you thought about the opportunity for, I think you said like a half a second, I think is what you said, a half a second before you said yes, and, and there has to be a reason for that, right? You saw a lot of growth; you saw a lot of potential. You saw, you saw something meaningful. And I wonder, and from your perspective, what you’re excited about most?

Courtney Black: I guess what I’m excited about most is, you know, at the National Lab one of our main goals is, you know, a lot of people think the ISS and other stations are going to exist so we can live in space. And that’s not the only reason. And that’s a really small reason. Most of the reason that we do research and science up on station is to bring benefit to life here on Earth. And when I was thinking about leaving the classroom, I’m in the classroom, it’s such a powerful position to be an educator, you have that direct impact. And sometimes you don’t see it for, you know, the fruits of your labor for many years. So when I was presented with the opportunity of leaving the classroom and having an impact on teachers, it, it really resonated with what I felt like my, my purpose was. You know, I, that ARISS contact made me realize that there’s so many opportunities for youth to get involved in STEM careers. I think the number is that there will be, you know, a million unfilled STEM jobs in the near future. And that’s an astounding amount.

Host: Yeah.

Courtney Black: So any opportunity we can provide so that youth and students can see themselves in these STEM jobs — I’ll never forget, one of the young ladies who participated in the ARISS contact back in 2018 name was Emily Gunger. And she was a junior when she was selected and a senior when she participated, a senior in high school, and went on to Embry-Riddle [Aeronautical University]. She’s now a senior at Embry-Riddle; I still keep in touch with her. And I remember her telling one of the news reporters, this was the catalyst, this was what started me on my trajectory to become an astronaut. She’s like, let’s go, let’s do this. And so having the ability to be a part of hundreds of those stories, maybe not directly but indirectly, I know I’m in the right place.

Host: Very meaningful, Courtney. And I think a perfect place to leave this conversation. Courtney Black, thank you so much for coming on Houston We Have a Podcast. Your passion was very inspiring for this program and for reaching out to more and more students and, and inspiring that next generation. We need those science, technology, engineering, and math jobs, and I think this is a, this, this is a great way to, to get those kids excited about it, here in the United States, of course, but, but around the world. So, so thank you very much for coming on and sharing all that you do.

Courtney Black: Thank you, Gary. It’s been a pleasure being here today.


Host: Hey, thanks for sticking around. Very exciting to be talking with Courtney Black today. She was a very inspiring person to talk to. I hope you learned something and are inspired to check out this ARISS program, especially if you’re an educator or a student. You can go to the ISS National Lab’s website or to learn more about the program. That’s ARISS: A-R-I-S-S. We are one of many podcasts at NASA, the space agency. You can go to to learn more about us, check out our collection of episodes, of which you can listen to the episodes in no particular order. There are also a number of other podcasts you can see at the agency at that website. If you want to talk to us specifically, we’re at the NASA Johnson Space Center pages of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and you can use the hashtag #AskNASA on your favorite platform to submit an idea for the show. Just make sure to mention it’s for us at Houston We Have a Podcast. The episode was recorded on May 27th, 2022. Thanks to Alex Perryman, Pat Ryan, Heidi Lavelle, Belinda Pulido, Jaden Jennings, Erin Anthony, Rachel Barry, and the International Space Station program research team. And of course, thanks again to Courtney Black for taking the time to come on the show. Give us a rating and feedback on whatever platform you’re listening to us on and tell us what you think of our podcast. We’ll be back next week.