12,000 Students Videoconference with Astronauts on ISS – Historical Highlight

Last update to this page:  November 10, 2020

Historical Hightlight 

On November 12, 2012 more than 12,000 students, teachers, administrators, and guests across 24 Student Spaceflight Experiment Program (SSEP) communities connected live via video downlink to the International Space Station (ISS) and the National Air and Space Museum’s Moving Beyond Earth gallery. This novel downlink was a result of a partnership between the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE), the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, NASA’s Teaching from Space office, and the U.S. Department of Education for International Education Week 2012.

Approximately 130 D.C. students participated in-person from the Moving Beyond Earth gallery, while the other approximately 12,000 students participated virtually from communities across the U.S. and Canada.  During the downlink ISS Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams and Flight Engineer Kevin Ford answered student questions about life, work, and research aboard the ISS orbiting laboratory. The videoconference was simulcast on NASA TV.

At the time of the event 23 SSEP Mission 1 and 2 microgravity experiments were onboard the ISS and were being conducted by Station Commander Sunita Williams.

Following the live Earth to ISS conversation, NASA Associate Administrator for Education and two-time space shuttle astronaut Leland Melvin spoke to participating students, encouraging them to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Other participants in the day’s education activities included Deputy Secretary of Education Anthony Miller, Smithsonian Assistant Secretary for Education and Access Claudine Brown, and then Director of the National Air and Space Museum Gen. J.R. “Jack” Dailey.

Full video of the event –

Coverage of the event –

Students Conduct Live Conversation with Orbiting NASA Astronauts
NASA – press release – November 15, 2012

An Out-of-This-World Program
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum – article – April 26, 2013