Written by Betsy Abraham Friday, 10 May 2013 00:00
Military astronaut Col. Shane Kimbrough visited Carle Place High School recently, sharing his experience in space during a mission to the International Space Station.
Dressed in a blue flight suit, Kimbrough educated the 7-12th grade students on the space program, taking questions and revealing the truth about common misconceptions about space.
Students asked questions such as what astronauts ate in space, how they showered, and what the crew did in their free time on the Endeavour.
“Any free time I had I spent at the window. To look at our planet is incredible. The colors were just really vibrant and looking at the thin layer of atmosphere that protects us is pretty humbling. It’s just a cool perspective that you never get here on Earth. That fascination kept growing every time I went to the window,” Kimbrough said.
While Kimbrough was in space, he did two space walks, which he describes as very physically, emotionally and mentally demanding. Space walks required him to wear a space suit that weighed 300 pounds on Earth, but nothing in space.
He also shared with students how astronauts sleep, with their whole body zipped into a sleeping bag that is strapped to the wall, and how a meal consisted of simply adding water to some dehydrated food.
Kimbrough said he wanted to be an astronaut ever since he saw U.S. astronauts landing on the moon as a child.
“If there is one place I could go, I’d like to go to the moon, just because that’s what inspired me originally. If I could put a footprint on the moon it would be full circle,” Kimbrough said.
Kimbrough, a Georgia native, graduated from West Point and went on to the U.S. Army Aviation School. In 1990, he was deployed to Southwest Asia where he served in the 24th Infantry division as an attack helicopter platoon leader, aviation liaison officer, and attack helicopter battalion operations officer during Operation Desert Storm. He joined the NASA team at the Johnson Space Center in 2000 and was selected to be an astronaut candidate in 2004. He then underwent training, which included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training, flight training and water and wilderness survival training. In November 2008, he boarded the Endeavour with six other people for an almost 16-day mission to carry materials and equipment to the International Space Station.
“It took eight and a half minutes to get to space, and I was laughing the whole way,” Kimbrough said.
Kimbrough, who is currently serving as the Chief of the NASA Robotics Branch, is hoping to go up to space again soon with the Russian space program. Prior to speaking at Carle Place High School, Kimbrough spoke to Westbury high
school students at the Cradle of Aviation, showcasing how he has incorporated his love of science and technology into a career at NASA.