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Astronaut Talks to NDA Students, Staff
Astronaut Talks to NDA Students, Staff
Posted on 04/22/2021
Nesbitt Discovery Academy (NDA) students had an out of this world experience on Wednesday when NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold visited via Zoom.By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Nesbitt Discovery Academy (NDA) students had an out of this world experience on Wednesday when NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold visited via Zoom.

The former teacher and scientist took two trips to the International Space Station (2009 and 2018) totaling 209 total days in space. During Wednesday’s Zoom, he recounted his experiences and took questions from enthralled students. Those questions ran the gamut from the functional – “what was your favorite meal?” “what’s the sleep schedule like?” – to the philosophical – “does seeing a sliver of the vastness of space change your view on anything?”

“As students begin to consider their possible careers, it is important for them to ponder the big picture,” Mr. Arnold said. “Humans have been living and working continuously on the International Space Station (ISS) since before any high schooler today was born. Humans are going back to the moon. Just this week, a robotic helicopter flew on another world – Mars! They can be a part of this amazing journey into the solar system and look forward to a meaningful career that benefits all of us. To do so, however, they need to have a sense of what is possible if they are intentional with their choices and are willing to pursue their dreams – wherever they lead.”

Several students noted that Mr. Arnold’s personal story helped demystify the astronaut experience and career path.

“I thought being an astronaut was an outlandish, impossible career,” said NDA sophomore Thomas Smith. “But his presentation made it seem much more feasible. I got a sense of some concrete steps.”

NDA junior Reed Houston and NDA computer science teacher Stephanie Reynolds were impressed by the diverse range of experiments – more than 200 at a time – that take place the ISS, along with the global cooperation .

“I thought it was amazing to hear about the people from all around the world who come together and do really high caliber experiments,” Reed said. “They’re from different backgrounds, but they’re making history together.”

NDA has its own spaceflight connection. Later this year, NDA's Deep Space Satellite Club plans to deploy a small, customized motherboard filled with sensing equipment as part of NASA’s Artemis-1 uncrewed test flight mission to the moon. Called a ThinSat, the satellite will detach from Artemis-1 between Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts (more than 22,000 miles above Earth’s surface) and gather data about space weather, solar flares, and the planet’s magnetic field. If all goes according to plan, the ThinSat will travel for more than a year, passing Mars and collecting radiation and space weather data along the way.

“Congratulations to the students involved!” Mr. Arnold said. “What an incredible experience to be a part of that journey.”

And for anyone interested in a career like his, Mr. Arnold had some simple advice: “Keep pursuing your passions and be a good team player.”

    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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