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NASA astronauts talk technology advancements at WVIA visit

Bob Hines completed his first space mission in 2022.
Kara Washington
Bob Hines completed his first space mission in 2022.

Bob Hines, a Crestwood High School graduate, was the pilot on SpaceX Crew-4 Mission.

The roughly six-month mission, from April 27- October 14, 2022, was completed when the capsule splashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

“What it feels like the sound should be is kerplunk,” Hines said. “Because you can actually feel the capsule just kind of bob down into the water and pop back up.”

He, Congressman Matt Cartwright and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson visited the WVIA Studios for a talk with students about outer space and scientific advances of the future.

For 170 days, the 4-person international crew aboard the spacecraft spent most of their time conducting research.

“There’s 250 experiments at any given time on the space station, and they cover all different types of things,” Hines said. “A lot of them, especially the ones that just keep life going for us on the space station, those are technologies that transfer back to the earth. We recycle 99% of our air, about 98% of our water, and those technologies are really important for purifying the air and water in places that don’t have clean water available. They’re able to take that technology and install it into water wells that purifies the water so that local villages can have drinking water.”

“We can invent and create and use various products that can be invented and created more easily in zero G,” Nelson said. “For example, they’re inventing new pharmaceutical products that can help us attack diseases here on Earth.”

“Going back to the Apollo days, we got technology for transistors that are in your cell phone,” Hines said. “The MRIs that we are all familiar with, medical, that was NASA-developed technology.”

Cartwright, top Democrat of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee that funds the entire space program, hoped to inspire young minds.

“If you look at the Fortune 500 list of the biggest, most successful companies in America, the ones crowding the top were not even around a couple generations ago. Why? Because they’re based on some scientific or technological breakthrough that was the brainchild of somebody who went into science, technology, engineering, and math,” he said.

Late next year, NASA plans to send a crew to the moon for the first time in a half-century as part of a grand plan to get to Mars.

“That’s why we’re going back to the moon,” Nelson said. “To learn to live and work in a very hostile environment, in order so we can venture out all the way to Mars. And that’s gonna be a great day, and it will be in your lifetimes.”

Kara Washington

Students from several area schools had questions for Hines, like what’s the typical day in the life of an astronaut, and what did he miss most about Earth?

His answer: fresh fruit, ice-cold drinks, laying down and his family, of course. He said the technology in space allowed him to communicate with them better than he could when he was in the Air Force.

It was a long road to becoming an astronaut since Hines graduated from Crestwood. He spent 23 years as an Air Force pilot before he was selected by NASA in 2017. He told students that having big goals is a great thing, but it’s important that you enjoy the journey.