October 18, 2017

Former NASA astronaut to speak at annual Purdue Space Day

Polansky-ml Mark Polansky (Photo by NASA) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A veteran of three NASA missions and member of Purdue’s Cradle of Astronauts will visit the university Saturday (Oct. 21) for the annual Purdue Space Day.

The one-day camp opens Saturday with a 9:15 a.m. talk by former NASA astronaut Mark Polansky in Elliott Hall of Music. More than 750 children will attend this year’s Purdue Space Day.

Polansky flew on the Atlantis (1998), Discovery (2006) and Endeavour (2009) space shuttles as part of three separate missions to service the International Space Station. In all, Polansky logged close to 1,000 hours in space, retiring in 2012.

He is a Purdue alumnus, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the College of Engineering School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, both in 1978.

Polansky’s speech will be streamed online via at Facebook.com/PurdueSpaceDay. The College of Engineering also will share his talk across its Facebook page, Facebook.com/PurdueEngineering

Purdue Space Day provides school students in grades 3-8 the opportunity to learn about STEM by participating in three age-appropriate space, science and engineering centered activities. The participants are divided into three separate age ranges: Grades 3-4, Grades 5-6 and Grades 7-8.

This year the children will enjoy a variety of activities, including experiencing life on the International Space Station, building and launching satellites and creating an air filter from spare parts and garbage for the crippled Apollo 13 spacecraft.

The Indiana Space Grant Consortium and the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics support Purdue Space Day as well as corporate sponsors Boeing and Raytheon.

Purdue Space Day began more than 20 years ago on November 9, 1996, with around 120 grade school students participating and 40 Purdue students who ran the program. Since then, more than 8,700 grade school students have participated in the one-day event.

Past astronauts attending Purdue Space Day include John Blaha, Roy Bridges Jr., Mark Brown, John Casper, Andrew Feustel, Guy Gardner, Greg Harbaugh, Gary Payton, Loren Shriver, Scott Tingle, Janice Voss, Don Williams, David Wolf, Charlie Walker, Buzz Aldrin and Jerry Ross. 

Writer: Brian L. Huchel, 765-494-2084, bhuchel@purdue.edu

Source: Anna Bowers, 765-494-5147, akbowers@purdue.edu

Note to Journalists: Mark Polansky will be available for interviews for up to 20 minutes following his speech in Elliott Hall of Music. Cameras are welcome during the speech as well any of the children’s activities throughout the day.

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