Astronauts Hold Class From Space Station Astronauts at the International Space Station convened a class from space with schoolchildren in Idaho. One student wanted to know: "If you threw a baseball in space, how fast would it go?" Meanwhile, tests suggest that repairs to space shuttle Endeavour's underbelly may not be needed.
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Astronauts Hold Class From Space Station

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Astronauts Hold Class From Space Station

Astronauts Hold Class From Space Station

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Astronauts on board the International Space Station are waiting for NASA to decide if there will be a space walk to repair damaged tiles on the space shuttle Endeavour. A gash in the thermo tiles occurred during launch when the shuttle was en route to the station. Meanwhile, yesterday, the four crew members convened a classroom from space and talked with school children in Idaho.

From member station KBXX, Sadie Babits reports.

SADIE BABITS: Ten-year-old Hunter Fry(ph) and 17 other kids have their eyes glued to a massive flat screen TV waiting for a message from space.

Ms. BARBARA MORGAN (Teacher-Astronaut): We have you loud and clear.

BABITS: That's Barbara Morgan. Her dark-brown hair floats like sea kelp from her head as she appears on screen with three other astronauts. They've all been in space now for a week.

Ms. MORGAN: Good afternoon. We're happy to be here with you. This is Al Drew, Clay Anderson, Dave Williams, and I'm Barbara Morgan. And we are ready for your first question. Welcome aboard the International Space Station.

Unidentified Woman: If you threw a baseball in space, how fast would it go?

BABITS: Out comes a baseball as astronauts Clay Anderson shows just how slow a ball can float in space. For 20 minutes, the astronauts take questions from Idaho, where Morgan taught school for 20 years. She explains what it's like being weightless by lifting up two of her fellow astronauts at the same time. Together they field the questions ranging from how to prepare for a space walk to this one.

Mr. HUNTER FRY (Student): Hi. My name is Hunter Fry. What are your responsibilities for this mission?

Ms. MORGAN: My responsibilities are for the robotic arms and a lot of the transfer. We're bringing lots of the equipment, science equipment, and food, and clothing, and other supplies...

BABITS: Hunter Fry wears a yellow polo shirt with a NASA pin, plus one of the space station and the shuttle Endeavour. Like all these kids, he was nominated by his teacher for his exceptional work in science classes. Afterwards, he talked about the highlight of this experience: watching the astronauts drink juice.

Mr. H. FRY: It reminded of the strawberry juice because it was red. It was all over the place and they are eating it like medicines with a spoon. I thought they'd just go up with the straw.

BABITS: Fry's dad, Steve, has tears in his eyes as he talks about his son.

Mr. STEVE FRY: He was the man of the day. It was great.

BABITS: Steve Fry remembers when Challenger exploded carrying on board the first teacher-astronaut Christa McAuliffe. Barbara Morgan was McAuliffe's back-up for the mission, and that's something his son doesn't fully understand yet.

Mr. S. FRY: To them, it's a day at the Discovery Center and talking to astronauts. But to the rest of us, this is the accumulation of 22, 23 years of hard work to get to this point. And it's just not only neat to see the program gets here, but to have our children involved in it.

Mr. H. FRY: It's one memory that I'm going to remember for the rest of my life.

BABITS: Do you think there's anything that could top this?

Mr. H. FRY: Talking to a dinosaur.

BABITS: That's a pretty tall order. But in Fry's eyes, anything is possible. He says he has no desire to go up in space. He wants to keep his feet firmly planted on Earth, maybe in mission control.

For NPR News, I'm Sadie Babits in Boise.

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