News

Grad speech from space

Grad speech from space

HELLO, FROM SPACE!:Rick Mastracchio works to replace a pump in a spacesuit aboard the International Space Station. Mastracchio, a University of Connecticut alumnus, is scheduled to deliver the school's commencement address on May 10 from aboard the International Space Station. Mastracchio served as a commencement speaker for his alma mater, the University of Connecticut. Photo: Associated Press

By Richard Weizel

STORRS Conn. (Reuters) – University of Connecticut alumnus Rick Mastracchio took a break from orbiting the globe on the International Space Station to deliver an address to students graduating from the university’s School of Engineering on Saturday.

With a large black UConn banner and UConn baseball cap floating behind him, Mastracchio hovered between two space suits and spun upside down several times during the pre-recorded address for the 400 graduates and a crowd of about 5,000 at the university.

“I could not be there with you on this big day, but being in space I was trying to figure out how to make this speech different than all the other commencement addresses that are given each year,” he said.

“And then I realized – I’m in a weightless environment. So maybe, I should give the speech in a different orientation.”

Mastracchio, 54, who is on an eight-month stint on the space station, then floated upside down, before spinning back to an upright position, bringing laughs and cheers from graduates and their families.

“I probably have the best job on and off the planet,” he said.

Kazem Kazerounian, dean of the engineering school, who set up the speech from space, said: “Many of us, faculty and students, were inspired to become engineers because of space exploration and this was a perfect way to bring more reality to our dreams.”

Mastracchio, who will return to Earth next week aboard a Russian spacecraft after completing his fourth trip into space, had a final message as he grabbed and put on the UConn baseball cap.

“Go Huskies,” he said, referring to the nickname for the school’s sports teams, as he spun upside down again.

Recent Headlines

in Local

City Council Green Lights Magro’s off Stevenson Dr.

municipalcenter

Aldermen approved the variance on a 9-1 vote, Ward 3 Alderman Doris Turner was the lone no vote.

in Local

Eastbound Monroe St. Reduced by Capitol

road construction

Public Works says multiple service valves have broken and they need to be repaired.

in Local

Portions of Chatham Under Boil Order

water

Residents and businesses in the area on West Walnut St. from Route 4 to College might experience low water pressure or no water pressure at all.

in Election 2014, Local

Barr, Regan Agree to Sheriff’s Race Debate on WTAX Oct. 31

sangamon county sheriff

The two candidates have sparred back and forth in recent weeks through press releases and, in some cases, have cancelled other debates due to perceived hostilities.