BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Nearly 600 children, kindergarten through eighth grade, from Aurora Quest K-8 School filled the gymnasium for a general assembly. Little did they know that this particular assembly would be unlike any they’ve had this year. After Dave Schoenhals, Aurora Quest K-8 principal, greeted his students he revealed the big surprise. They would be meeting a real-life astronaut.
The gym grew loud with the chatter of children as they shifted around on the wood floor and whispered into the ears of their neighbors. Schoenhals asked the children to quiet down and give their full attention to Col. Jack “2 Fish” Fischer, NASA astronaut.
Fischer started his talks with the children by making something very clear.
“So I have a couple words that I love to use all the time. ‘Awesome,’ because it’s awesome. The second one is ‘Cool’,” said Fischer.
He encouraged the children to be vocal during his presentation. Whenever they saw or heard something they liked, they used one of his favorite words. With his only request out of the way, Fischer began his presentation while standing in front of a large projector screen that played footage from his missions. He explained everything from training to traditions, the importance of quarantine and how space suits work, as well as what he does on launch day and some the high-tech equipment they use on-board.
At the end of the presentation Fischer walked among the crowd of children who waved their hands to ask questions about how to become an astronaut, what it’s like out in space and, if he’d ever met a Martian, to which Fischer replied;
“I’ve never met any. But space is really big so if I ever do I just hope they’re friendly.”
One little girl raised her hand to say that she thought space was really ‘cool,’ but she was afraid it was too dangerous. Fischer smiled and answered;
“Space is dangerous, but it’s worth it.”
Fischer departed the gymnasium to an applause from students who gained a new perspective on space exploration.
After Fischer’s visit with the children at the school, he made his was to Buckley Air Force Base. While on Buckley AFB, Fischer learned about the bases’ mission, specifically the space-based infrared system. He then received a tour of the operations floor and met with Airmen from the 460th Space Wing for a question and answer session over lunch at the Panther Den. Fischer said he felt the future lies with the Airmen;
“Find what you love. Find where you fit in and keep your eyes and heart open to changes.”
Fischer also stressed the importance of every role in the Air Force;
“There are no bad jobs. If what you’re doing helps the team be better, you’re doing your job. Just do your best.”