North Carolina students chat with an astronaut on the International Space Station

Koichi Wakata loves being in space, but the veteran astronaut told Brentwood Elementary School students he’s looking forward to taking a long shower when he returns to Earth in March.

Wakata, who is currently working on the International Space Station, He answered a series of questions posed by the Raleigh School students on Thursday About what it’s like to live and work in space. This includes the challenge of living on less than a gallon of water per day for each person on the space station.

“We don’t have enough water to take a shower or a bath, so I really dream of taking a hot shower sometimes,” said Wakata, 59, senior advisor and astronaut at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Instead of showering, astronauts on the International Space Station squeeze liquid soap and water from the sachets onto their skin, According to the National Air and Space Museum. They use soap without rinsing with a little water to clean their hair. They use the towels to wipe off the excess water.

Koichi Wakata snaps fresh fruits brought to the International Space Station in this 2014 photo. Wataka, who is currently aboard the International Space Station, speaks with students at Brentwood Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina, via ham radio Jan. 26, 2023 . NASA

Inspirational STEM careers

Thursday’s radio call is made possible by the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARES) a program. ARISS helps connect students with astronauts to try to inspire interest in STEM subjects and careers in STEM fields.

“I look at all the kids today and I know that one of you will probably be the first person to set foot on Mars,” Tony Rice, NASA ambassadorto 400 students who packed the gymnasium in Brentwood to hear Wakata.

Brentwood was chosen by ARISS because of its engineering subject at Raleigh Magnet School. The school provides special geometry classes that help students think and learn about geometry as part of everyday life.

“It was really cool to ask the astronaut questions and get answers,” said Drew Dunn-El, 9, a fourth grader.

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Students line up at Brentwood Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina on January 26, 2023 to ask questions over ham radio to astronaut Koichi Wakata, who works on the International Space Station. Tae Kyung Hwi

One chance in a million years

They cut off She has a lot of experiences to talk about. He has completed several missions in space, including becoming the first Japanese commander of the International Space Station in 2014.

“It’s not scary because we are all trained to deal with any problems we may encounter when we live and work in space,” Wakata told the students.

Wakata, who has been working on the International Space Station since October, said the hardest part about being in space is being separated from his family. But that hasn’t stopped him from multitasking since 1996.

“The best thing is being able to work with my amazing crewmates every single day on and off the space station,” he said. “I am proud to be a part of this amazing group.”

The students said they will never forget this experience.

“It’s really special,” said May Ryals, 8, a third grader who was chosen to ask the questions. “My teacher said this was a once in a million year opportunity and it was amazing that I was chosen for this.”

This story was originally published Jan 26, 2023 4:07 PM.

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T. Keung Hui has covered K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school personnel, and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. Its primary focus is Wake County, but it also covers statewide education issues.

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