Students were invited to attend an assembly, Saturday, Feb. 25, to listen as astronaut Susan Kilrain spoke about her life’s journey and the future of space travel. Kilrain is a navy test pilot and aerospace engineer. She is also the youngest person and one of only three women to pilot a space shuttle.
The event was organized by Mrs. Pamajala and the pre-engineering society in celebration of National Engineering week. Before the speech, Kilrain took part in a smaller Q&A session with students on the pre-engineering track, answering questions about her experiences as an astronaut and advice on pursuing careers in aeronautical engineering.
During her speech, Kilrain spoke about her early years growing up in Georgia, her time in the Navy as a fighter pilot and her selection as an astronaut by NASA in 1995. She described the personal challenges she faced, from her difficult childhood to discrimination in her field. She also discussed her experiences aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia and the International Space Station (ISS), detailing the scientific experiments they conducted and her roles aboard the ISS.
Kilrain then spoke about the environmental impacts that could be seen from space, such as deforestation in Brazil, melting glaciers and declining water levels in lakes and rivers. She quizzed the audience about geography using aerial images from space, showing the audience both the beauty of earth and the impact humanity had on it. Additionally, she explained the benefits of space exploration, from furthering science to inspiring the youth to pursue STEM education. She concluded her speech by taking numerous audience questions and signing autographs.