Tuesday morning, students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology were treated to live feed downlink from U.S. astronaut Bill Macarthur and Russian cosmonaut Valeri Tokabe. Macarthur and Tokabe are currently residing in the International Space Station located 200 miles above the Earth.
The downlink was made possible by an uplink from Mission Control at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
Macarthur is acting commander of the ISS and Valeri Tokabe is flight engineer.
Twenty-two students prepared questions for the Macarthur and Tokabe. T.J. senior Courtney Dressing asked Valeri in Russian: “What are the most valuable lessons you have learned through your experiences aboard the ISS?
Junior Megan Behm asked Macarthur: “What it is like returning to Earth after a long-duration spaceflight?
Jason Ethier, a senior at T.J., wanted to know “What are the differences between the Russian Orlan and the U.S. EVA suits?
Junior Cara Walsh inquired about “To what types of astronomical space hazard is the ISS vulnerable?"
T.J. senior Dallas Joder changed the focus to “How do you address critics of the ISS who claim that the project is a waste of money and effort, perhaps more about politics than science?"
The astronauts took turns answering and at approximately 9:48 a.m. the downlink ended.
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and U.S. Astronaut Carl Walz closed the session with the students. Spellings presented T.J. principal Elizabeth Lodal with a copy of “The World is Flat.”