World renowned American astronaut Dr Donald Thomas is on a visit to India. The main reason behind his visit to India is to encourage Indian students to take up higher studies in science, maths and space exploration. He want to make students aware about the space. In the year 2007, he retired from NASA and soon after he joined Towson University and started visiting schools to interact with students. Till date he has visited close to 600 schools and interacted with 10,000 students from pre-schools and high schools across Europe, United States, South America and Middle East.
On Wednesday, Thomas along with Michael Flachbart, Vice President of Center Operations at US Space and Rocket Centre visited Mumbai where he interacted with school students, shared his experiences and made them familiar with space travel. The schools that Thomas visited in Mumbai were Oberoi International School, Ajmera Global, Ryan Global, NES International, Panbai International and Tridha. He interacted with students from Class 3 to 8 and addressed them through a detailed presentation and interactive demonstrations, besides answering their questions.
Lissy Donald, CEO of Compass International said, “We are delighted to be appointed by the USSRC as their regional partner to represent them in the GCC Gulf Corporation Council region and India, and encourage the younger generation to reach for the stars. With Thomas’ visit, we bring space camp to the students which will prove beneficial, especially to those who cannot make the field trips to the USSRC.”
While sharing his experience with the students Donald said, “Even as an astronaut I visited schools. But after my retirement, I do it full time. Students, no matter from which country, are excited and thrilled about space. Space is a magical place for them, where everything floats and they are superbly fascinated with it.”
He claimed that Mars mission is possible and work has already begun at NASA to build the space shuttle. However the concept of one-way ticket to Mars is not possible. “The discovery of water is a strong indication of life. It means that resource is present there and we do not have to carry it from Earth. But building a life on another planet will take a long time,” he said.
While talking about students’ visit to NASA, he told that NASA has started Space Camp in 1982 and has 35,000 graduates till date, five of them have even become astronauts. It is a training program for children where they can experience the life in space, such as operating the simulator, handling emergency situations, living in vacuum and managing a shuttle. The staring cost of the program is Rs. 1 lakh.
During his visits to schools, excited children also raised serious questions about the dangers in space and really got them answered.