Local Students spoke to astronauts on a live linkToday, my wife Ann was privileged to watch astronauts from the International Space Station speak live and in-flight to students from three local HISD schools.

Turns out, Astronaut Shannon Walker was born and raised here in Houston, and is the first native Houstonian in space.  Dr. Walker graduated from Parker Elementary, Johnston Middle School, and Westbury High School, and majored in physics at Rice University.

A wildly enthusiastic crowd of students from Parker, Johnston, and Westbury greeted Dr. Walker and Colonel Douglas Wheelock, the Space Station Commander.  The two astronauts floated gracefully in near-zero gravity while answering questions from the students - who had, of course, spent the preceding months studying space issues with their teachers.   Dr. Walker really lit up when asked about the most exciting part of her job.  She said, hands down, that it was her 8 ½ minute ride on the Soyuz rocket into space – although she imagined that her splash down was probably going to be equally exciting.  Bellaire City Councilman Corbett Parker and a host of dignitaries from HISD were also on hand to listen in.

To learn more about Dr. Walker’s adventures in space – fixing the broken toilet, being a test subject for the medical experiments, etc. – follow her blog at http://blogs.chron.com/inorbit/.

Many thanks to astronaut Shannon Walker.  Dr. Walker, you make us all Houston Proud!

Roger Martin