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The North Bend Eagle


Clay Anderson speaks to crowded NBC gym.
Clay Anderson addresses a crowded NBC gym May 11.

Astronaut Anderson entertains, educates

by Nathan Arneal
Published 5/19/10

Until last Tuesday, Sandra Dauel didn’t know that you could play baseball in outer space.

Now the NBE third grader knows it can be done. She’s seen it done, as a matter of fact.

Clay Anderson
Anderson was in space just three weeks prior to his visit to North Bend.

“Nebraska’s astronaut” Clayton Anderson delighted a gym full of people with tales and images of space last Tuesday. Anderson, a native of Ashland, returned from his most recent mission to space just three weeks prior to his visit to North Bend.
North Bend Central’s K-12 student body as well as members of the public attended Anderson’s presentation in the NBC gym May 11.

Anderson began by showing the assembled crowd the official NASA video of his recent space mission. He said the video had made its debut the previous night in Houston, making the North Bend crowd just the second group to view the movie.
Anderson, who spent five months aboard the International Space Station in 2007, returned to the station in April for a resupply mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

The mission video he showed in North Bend included video of the crew boarding Discovery, its launch and landing, and several breathtaking images of space and Earth. Included in the video was a scene of the astronauts taking a little batting practice using a baseball and a makeshift bat. Anderson said the baseball will be used at the College World Series in Omaha in June.

“I’d kind of like to throw it to the catcher at home plate with a fastball before any of the games start, but I don’t know if they’re going to let me do that part,” Anderson said.

After the video Anderson took questions. With the space shuttle program ending later this year, he addressed his hopes for the future manned space flight.

“Suffice to say, I hope we get back to being the leader in human space flight,” he said. “They are going to extend the space station to 2020, and that’s a good thing, but I really think Americans should lead the world in human space exploration. I don’t think we need to be letting China or India or Russia or whoever else lead, but that’s just me.”

Anderson was presented with an NBC Tiger hat. He said he would cheer for North Bend this coming year... unless it plays Ashland-Greenwood, his alma mater.

Anderson also said he thinks the space program is well worth the investment because of all the benefits that have come out of it, such as the technology that made portable drills, cell phones and GPS possible.

NBE kindergarten teacher Deb Andrews first tried to get Anderson to visit North Bend after his 2007 stay on the space station, but he was overwhelmed with appearance requests at the time. This time, she applied to NASA for a visit during the 2009 summer in anticipation of his spring 2010 mission. Andrews and NBC did not get confirmation that Anderson would be able to make the visit to North Bend until May 5.

With funding support from the North Bend Area Community Foundation, the visit finally became a reality last week.

“It was a fabulous afternoon,” Andrews said. “My kindergartners just loved it as did students from all of the grades. The water bubble with the M&M in it (shown in the video) and playing baseball in space were their two highlights.”

Near the close of his hour-long presentation, Anderson told the students that the life of an astronaut is very exciting, even when he’s not in space.

“It’s actually a great job,” he said. “I get to fly jets, scuba dive, climb mountains. I’ve lived in a habitat underwater for two weeks. I’ve traveled to Russia and Japan and Germany to learn how to fly and do space walks. The training is really cool, and that’s the most special part of being an astronaut.

“It’s pretty neat stuff.”

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