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'Our Astronaut' impresses students with stories about space


Before the huge “Our Astronauts” event at Elliott Hall of Music, the College of Science welcomed its astronaut back to Purdue campus.

Dr. Drew Feustel, a Geosciences graduate from what is now the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, spent an hour talking to students about his career April 11 in the Lawson Computer Science Building Commons. The informal talk was a day before the “Our Astronauts” event at Elliott Hall, which included several other astronauts like Gene Cernan, Guy Gardner, Charles Walker and more.

Utilizing Lawson’s huge video wall for slides, photos and video of his time in space, Feustel enlightened a packed Lawson Commons on his two shuttle missions – 2009’s Atlantis mission to repair the Hubble Telescope and the final shuttle mission of 2011’s Endeavor to work on the International Space Station. Fesutel also gave details on his life, career and training before going up in space.

The audience reacted most to Feustel’s riveting take on the shuttle launches. Eight minutes of his guts being pressed to the back of his body thanks to all of the force while shooting into the atmosphere was spelled once gravity went away.

Another crowd favorite was Feustel’s harrowing description of his team trying to remove a stripped screw on the Hubble telescope. During one of the mission’s many spacewalks, a railing had to be broken off by hand; all while visual to NASA had been disconnected. It was like a scene from the hit movie “Gravity” but it really happened.

Feustel had a career as a geophysicist for several years before getting the call from NASA in 2000. The spaceman admitted being drawn to Purdue because of its reputation for cranking out astronauts.

Feustel is still an employe of NASA and he still has a huge career goal.

“I want to go to the moon,” Feustel told a group of students after his talk.

Feustel received his bachelor’s degree in Solid Earth Sciences in 1989 before earning his master’s degree in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences in 1991.

Drew Feustel talks to students at Lawson Commons.

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