Press Release

Space-Age Construction Crew to Inspire Kids at Space Day

By SpaceRef Editor
May 4, 2005
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Space-Age Construction Crew to Inspire Kids at Space Day

The astronaut crew of an upcoming Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station will spend Space Day 2005 talking with up-and-coming young scientists about their unique role in helping build the future. Mission Commander Mark Polansky and his crew will participate in Space Day events Thursday, May 5, at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, Va.

Commander Polansky and his crewmates — William Oefelein, Robert Curbeam, Joan Higginbotham, Nicholas Patrick, and European astronaut Christer Fuglesang — will fly to the Space Station on Space Shuttle mission STS-116. They are a space-age construction crew, building an outpost in orbit that will help humans mount future journeys to the moon and to Mars. They’re helping build the International Space Station, and they’ll show the kids at Space Day what tools it takes to do such an important job.

Reporters are invited to talk with members of the Space Shuttle crew following the Space Day event at the Udvar-Hazy Center. Interested media should call Melissa Mathews at NASA Public Affairs (202/358-1272) or Gail Rymer at Lockheed Martin (301/897-6934).

Space Day at the Udvar-Hazy Center will feature fun, hands-on educational activities for 2,000 area sixth-graders attending during the school day and a Family Night from 4 to 9 p.m. Activities will include meeting real astronauts, racing balloon rockets, driving Mars rovers, and seeing the Space Shuttle Enterprise in the center’s James S. McDonnell Space Hangar. As part of the celebration, NASA will have 10 educational activity stations.

The public is invited; parking will be free for the day; and great give-away prizes will be presented throughout the evening. In addition to hands-on activities, entertaining and educational stage productions will be offered. The Udvar-Hazy Center will open to the public at 10 a.m.

The STS-116 mission is expected to be the second International Space Station construction mission after the Space Shuttle returns to flight. The STS-116 mission is targeted for launch in 2006.

The Space Station is vital to the future of human exploration, facilitating long-term missions to the moon and to Mars. It’s the only realistic test bed for human endurance in space, as well as a platform for trying technologies and processes that will enable longer journeys. Returning the Space Shuttle to flight and completing the International Space Station are the first two steps in the Vision for Space Exploration. For more on the Vision, visit:

For biographies of Commander Polansky and the STS-116 crew, visit:

For more information about Space Day, including the national celebration at Udvar-Hazy, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.