News

Grad speech from space

Grad speech from space

HELLO, FROM SPACE!:Rick Mastracchio works to replace a pump in a spacesuit aboard the International Space Station. Mastracchio, a University of Connecticut alumnus, is scheduled to deliver the school's commencement address on May 10 from aboard the International Space Station. Mastracchio served as a commencement speaker for his alma mater, the University of Connecticut. Photo: Associated Press

By Richard Weizel

STORRS Conn. (Reuters) – University of Connecticut alumnus Rick Mastracchio took a break from orbiting the globe on the International Space Station to deliver an address to students graduating from the university’s School of Engineering on Saturday.

With a large black UConn banner and UConn baseball cap floating behind him, Mastracchio hovered between two space suits and spun upside down several times during the pre-recorded address for the 400 graduates and a crowd of about 5,000 at the university.

“I could not be there with you on this big day, but being in space I was trying to figure out how to make this speech different than all the other commencement addresses that are given each year,” he said.

“And then I realized – I’m in a weightless environment. So maybe, I should give the speech in a different orientation.”

Mastracchio, 54, who is on an eight-month stint on the space station, then floated upside down, before spinning back to an upright position, bringing laughs and cheers from graduates and their families.

“I probably have the best job on and off the planet,” he said.

Kazem Kazerounian, dean of the engineering school, who set up the speech from space, said: “Many of us, faculty and students, were inspired to become engineers because of space exploration and this was a perfect way to bring more reality to our dreams.”

Mastracchio, who will return to Earth next week aboard a Russian spacecraft after completing his fourth trip into space, had a final message as he grabbed and put on the UConn baseball cap.

“Go Huskies,” he said, referring to the nickname for the school’s sports teams, as he spun upside down again.

Local Headlines

in Local

Storm Boat Capsizing

boat

No injuries were reported in a boat capsizing in Storm Lake ...

in Local

Grassley Visiting NW Iowa

Grassley-090507-18363- 0032

Senator Chuck Grassley will be holding eight town meetings in Iowa...

in Local

AVHF Named A Top CAH

avera

Avera Holy Family Hospital Hospital deemed one of the top 20 Critical Access Hospitals in the nation...

in Local

Nursing Home Fined

gavel

North Lake Manor of Storm Lake has been fined more than $31,000...

in Local

Iowa Budget

dollar sign

Iowa's State Auditor Mary Mosiman is predicting the state budget will remain positive for the next 11 months...