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Former NASA astronaut visits UOW

Inspiration through space exploration was the key theme of a special program led by a former NASA astronaut at UOW this week. 

Hosted by Distinguished Professor Anatoly Rozenfeld from UOW’s Centre for Medical Radiation Physics (CMRP), former NASA astronaut Dr Leroy Chiao and NASA Master Teacher Jami Sunkel visited UOW for a three-part program that explored spaceflight and what it takes to become an astronaut.

A former International Space Station (ISS) Commander, Dr Chiao delved deep into his personal story and shared spaceflight adventures through exciting visuals, including his own photos from space.

“I don’t think anybody can fly into space, and not have the experience change them as a person,” he told a crowd of eager primary and high school students.

Dr Chiao shared stories from his 229 days in space that took place over four missions, including a six-month stint as ISS commander, and spoke about his personal journey to becoming an astronaut.

“I can remember it (the moon landing) like it was yesterday… I was eight years old, and it was so amazing to me that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were getting ready to walk,” he said.

“I thought; I really want to be like those guys. But I knew I needed a plan, I needed to go well at school, do a technical degree at university and make healthy life choices. I knew I needed those things to be an astronaut and have all those kinds of adventures.”

Dr Chiao was joined by NASA certified Master Science Teacher Jami Sunkel, co-founder of his company OneOrbit, which focuses on encouraging young people to think about science.

The program included a free public lecture on Monday 5 June, as well as a STEM-focused space lesson for more than 100 local HSC students on Tuesday 6 June.

 Dr Leroy Chiao collage

Posted in Science and Technology
Tagged: Physics