Osage Nation students talk with first Indigenous woman in space on NASA downlink from ISS

The International Space Station astronaut offered an exciting glimpse into space for Osage youths on Nov. 23, 2022.

Students from the Osage Nation were given the opportunity to ask questions of NASA astronaut Nicole Mann about all things space on Wednesday.

Through a remote video link from the International Space Station to Pawhuska, Mann, a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes and the first Native American woman to go to space, answered questions that ranged from how the space station is powered to whether astronauts grow tomatoes. Mann has been on her ISS mission since Oct. 5.

She also discussed how meteors can be monitored from space and announced an upcoming cargo ship that will deliver science materials for an experiment called Veggie 5. The program will allow astronauts to determine the best way to grow dwarf tomatoes in different growth environments in space. At the end, astronauts will taste the tomatoes to decide the best one, she said in the video.

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“This is important because when we go to Mars on a two-to-three-year mission, the freeze-dried food that we have will lose its nutritional value over that time, so we will need to supplement with freshly grown fruits and vegetables ,” Mann said.

Mann ended the session by demonstrating a zero-gravity flip out of the video shot.

The Osage Nation STEAM program — emphasizing science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics — allowed students to gear up for the event with space-related activities that included a summer rocket launch, an Osage Nation press release states.

“This event really embodies what we’re trying to do here, and we appreciate that NASA shares our mission to educate and inspire Native youth,” Mary Wildcat, the Osage Nation education department director who worked with NASA team members to set up the event , said in the release.

Osage students from the community and from the Osage Nation’s Daposka Ahnkodapi Elementary School, an Osage language and culture immersion school in Pawhuska, participated in the event at the Osage County Fairgrounds.

The students will be able to remember this moment “for the rest of their lives,” Patrick Martin, superintendent of Daposka Ahnkodapi, said in the release.

Featured video: First NASA mission led by Native American woman underway

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched its crew right into the history books. Aboard the Dragon capsule, mission commander Nicole Mann has gone where no other indigenous woman has gone before. “I am very proud to represent Native Americans and my heritage. You know, it’s interesting. We’re all from very unique, different backgrounds,” said Mann. Mann, born in California and a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian tribes, is a Stanford-trained mechanical engineer and Marine F-18 fighter pilot. This is her first trip to space, almost a decade after being chosen to join NASA’s astronaut class in 2013. “I’m thrilled to be joining the NASA team and looking forward to the next two years of training,” said Mann. Despite tensions between the US and Russian President Vladimir Putin over the invasion of Ukraine, in space the countries are still cooperating. A Russian cosmonaut was aboard a SpaceX capsule for the first time ever. The crew of four will spend the next five months conducting hundreds of experiments aboard the International Space Station. SEE MORE: Russian Launches To Space From US, 1st Time In 20 Years


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