Eastern Kentucky students chat with an astronaut on the International Space Station

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HAZARD, KY (WDKY) – Students in several school districts in Southeast Kentucky had the rare chance to speak with an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. The students are part of the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky’s STAR program: Students Teaching Astro Research. Two students have been selected from 13 Southeast school districts to resume their classroom skills. This event was a unique highlight for the centre.

“They only do it maybe once or twice a month and they get hundreds of applications, so they were very lucky to be selected,” said Charles Bush, office manager of the Challenger Learning Center, to WDKY from Nexstar.

Astronaut Jessica Watkins was able to answer questions from Kentucky students about everything in the stars.

“I just want to say I’m so excited to talk to you all, I know it’s been a tough few weeks for all of you out there and I just hope today can be a bit of an escape and we we can have a little fun together,” Watkins opened.

Allison McLaughlin is one of the lucky students who got to ask a question.

“My question is what’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in training,” she said on the downlink.

“It was really cool, especially hearing them answer your questions live and seeing how the microphone floats and won’t fall off,” she said, speaking after the event with WDKY.

Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman, a former educator, was present at the event and spoke about how beneficial this opportunity was for young students and offered encouragement as flood recovery continues in the community.

“It gives you hope, especially at a time when families are struggling here in Eastern Kentucky. We’ve been on the ground here with people for weeks now following the flood and to see the kids smile and know they had this to look forward to and this opportunity was there for them I think says it all what we need to say about how we come together in the state of Kentucky,” she told WDKY.

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