Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Astronaut Contest Deadline Extended

Students throughout the Upper Cumberland have more time to prepare questions to ask Atlantis space shuttle astronauts through Tennessee Tech University’s "Soaring Eagle Question Contest."

Just as NASA pushed back its launch date by four days to Nov. 16, TTU is pushing back the contest deadline by four days to Oct. 29, says Sally Pardue, interim director of the Oakley Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The Oakley Center - an initiative to support the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related fields - sponsors the contest.

"We’ve already received 10 questions from college students and another 45 from students in grades K-12. I anticipate quite a few more will come in," Pardue says.

The launch is especially significant for residents of the Upper Cumberland and for TTU. Alumnus Barry Wilmore (electrical engineering, ‘85, ‘94) will pilot the mission, which is NASA’s fifth shuttle launch of the year. The mission will return space station crewmember Nicole Stott to Earth. Atlantis also will deliver parts to the space station, including a spare gyroscope. The mission features three spacewalks. Contest winners will ask questions via a live NASA education downlink on TTU’s campus scheduled for Nov. 22.