Former astronaut inspires next generation

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:
Former NASA astronaut Ron Garan spent 178 days in space and traveled more than 71 million miles.

One lucky group of Southwest Florida students spent a special day in the classroom, learning lessons that were “out of this world.”

Former NASA astronaut Ron Garan talked with the SPARK Hybrid Education Center in Naples on Thursday.

We rode in an elevator to the top of the launchpad and each of us took our turns climbing through the hatch and into our places on Space Shuttle Discovery,” Garan told them.

He spent 178 days in space and traveled more than 71 million miles.

Now, his mission back on Earth is to inspire students to make the venture to space.

“This [referring to video] was on my first mission, and that’s me holding this big giant box.”

And kids are tapping into his giant box of knowledge. They asked him questions about women on the moon, what inspired him to become an astronaut, and if he would come out of retirement if NASA needed him.

His answer? “I would.”

Every student walked away with a lesson Garan has learned through his missions working with 15 other nations at the International Space Station.

“When you hear things like diversity is strength, that’s not a cliche. That’s true. The more different opinions and perspectives that you can bring to a solution, the more you’ll understand it.”

Garan is visiting classrooms all over the world, so if you know a teacher who might be interested, you can nominate them on Garan’s website.

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