ESD was excited to welcome Paul Lockhart, retired NASA Astronaut, Space Shuttle Pilot, and Air Force Aviator, as our special guest at the 2020 Parents’ Breakfast sponsored by the Dads’ Partnership. Not only did Lockhart speak with faculty and parents at the morning’s breakfast, but he also spent time sharing his experiences with all three divisions of students.
After graduating from the University of Texas with a Master’s in aerospace engineering, Lockhart was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 1996. In 2002, he flew on two space flights (STS-111 in June and STS-113 in November), logging over 26 days in space. Learn more about his experience here.
In addition to a reenactment of how the space shuttle launches into space, enters into orbit behind the international space station, and how it eventually descends back to earth after ~15 days, Lockhart also showed actual footage of himself and his colleagues on board the shuttle and photos taken on their journey. Students, parents, and faculty alike enjoyed hearing - and seeing - his experiences over the two missions. “The most beautiful thing to look at when you’re in space is the earth,” he said.
Lockhart also encouraged students to dedicate time to not only science but all of their studies if interested in this career. “Everything you’re learning in other classes is important,” he said. “You have to understand science, yes, but also know how to capture what you see, how to write about it, and how to tell people back on earth what you saw. That’s why we need all sorts of people that are interested in going to space.”
Following the presentation, Lockhart also made time to answer student questions, including but not limited to:
- Q: Is it scary to be in space? (A: no, but fun fact- he is afraid of heights!)
- Q: Does traveling to space change your perspective on life? (A: Yes, to put it simply)
- Q: What are your favorite foods to eat on the space shuttle? (A: chicken and rice)
We so enjoyed having Lockhart on campus! In the words of one second-grader, “Before, I wanted to be a surgeon but now I want to be an astronaut.” Thank you for joining us, Colonel Lockhart!