Berkleley students get special visit from astronaut

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A group of Berkeley students had a special visitor Wednesday, Commander Christopher Cassidy, who spent six months aboard the International Space Station. (KGO)

A group of Berkeley students got a special visitor Wednesday -- Commander Christopher Cassidy, who spent six months aboard the International Space Station. He was at Rosa Parks Elementary, hoping to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists.

After being received like a rock star, the former Navy SEAL and NASA astronaut fielded questions from students. And as one might expect, one question always comes up wherever he goes. "How does it feel, floating? It's incredible," he told them.

Talking to students is what Cassidy loves to do. Well, that and spacewalking. As an astronaut for NASA, he was part of a team that spent six months conducting science experiments to learn more about the environment on Earth. While everyone has questions about what happens up there, Cassidy believes the most important questions come from down on Earth.

"Kids are the future of our country. Kids are the future of our world. So that's the most important place, I feel, to share my stories," Cassidy said.

Students were clearly impressed with the close-up view of life aboard the space station. They saw astronauts floating in space, working out, sideways on a wall, while on a treadmill, because "up" is wherever you want it to be in space.

But everything isn't fun and games. When you're so far away, the maintenance to keep the space station running requires astronauts to also be mechanics. "Mechanical things break and when it's outside on the space station, sometimes a robotic arm can fix it but more often, it takes a person to go out there," Cassidy explained.

Cassidy believes that some of the many young people he often talks to could be among the next generation of weightless astronauts to make a big difference down below.
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