On Wednesday, October 11th, Rockhurst High School hosted Dr. Michael Massimino to speak to students and faculty. Massimino, a former NASA astronaut and the first person to tweet from space, is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University and the Senior Advisor for Space Programs at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.
“I think one of the most important things about your education is getting outside of the four walls at Rockhurst, and that might be literally getting out or it might just be hearing about what is out there,” Mr. Paul Winkler, Science Department Chair and STEAM Coordinator, said. “I think for you guys to understand what that experience is and realized that your education is not about what you do here at Rockhurst. It is about outside of here. That’s the key component to it.”
He is also a veteran of two space flights and has many accomplishments, including a team record for number of hours spacewalking in a single space shuttle mission. Massimino has made numerous television appearances including a six-time recurring role as himself on the CBS hit comedy “The Big Bang Theory.”
Massimino told the story of how he accomplished his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut. He grew up a working class kid whose seemingly unreachable dream of becoming an astronaut and going to space was realized in an unlikely journey that was driven by determination and commitment and grasped with hard work.
“It was interesting to hear from someone who has worked on something as important as the Hubble telescope,” senior Grant Lander said. “Also, I was surprised by the amount of training astronauts go through. I knew that they went through training, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as long as two years. I thought that by the time they were selected, they would have had enough qualifications proficiency.”
The astronaut recalled that his most memorable moment was getting to view Earth from space.
“I really felt like I was looking into heaven,” he said. “This is just what heaven looks like. It’s paradise.”