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

Judge Considers Whether to Dismiss Illinois Head-Injury Suit

ihsa

Cook County Judge Leroy Martin Jr. heard oral arguments Friday.

in Local

Ex-Washington Mayor Don Gronewald Dead at 83

wtax 011015

Gronewald, mayor of the central Illinois town from 1989 to 2001, died Tuesday at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria.

in Local

Iran Deal Gives Durbin a Shot at Political Redemption

dickdurbin2

Dick Durbin leading effort to get votes in favor of nuclear deal with Iran.

in Local

Munger Under Fire Over Outgoing State Funds

Biss and Munger

State Senator Daniel Biss says the comptroller’s office is having trouble following court ordered payments to various groups.

in Local

Legionnaires’ Disease Sickens 23 and Kills 2 in Quincy VA Home

Quincy VA Home

The Illinois Department of Public Health is taking steps to prevent more people in a Quincy veterans’ home from contracting Legionnaires’ disease.