FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – An astronaut who is a Colorado native and is one month into a six month stint at the International Space Station took a break from his work on Tuesday to talk with students in the state from space.

Steve Swanson grew up in Colorado and told Colorado State University students assembled for the special event in Fort Collins that he has friends in Northern Colorado.

NASA made the rare opportunity possible via a live link from space to Houston and then to CSU’s Johnson Hall.

While cruising around earth at a speed of about 70,500 mph Swanson chatted about life at the ISS.

Swanson answered questions from the college students and also from some of the younger students who were in the audience.

“Do the planets and sun and other stars look different than they do from Earth?” asked Olivia Baitinger, a 7-year-old.

According to Swanson, they don’t.

“It was cool how he was floating around and doing flips and that seems to be fun and I wish I could do that,” said Baitinger.

Swanson also talked everything from spacewalking to what he does when he gets bored, which he says isn’t very often.

“Hearing him answer my question from space, it’s just a really fantastic experience to have someone that far away,” said CSU sophomore Zane Ritche.

For engineering student Ben Melia the chat had deeper meaning. He says Swanson’s willingness to teach Coloradans puts a renewed emphasis on the importance of space exploration.

“He’s an astronaut, which to me that automatically qualifies him for hero, and to be able to like speak with your hero is really coo. To get other people to show up so you can talk with your hero is even more special to me,” said Melia.

Swanson is a graduate of the University of Colorado and also spoke with students in Boulder via the live space chat. However, in Ram Country students and staff are buzzing with pride as Swanson’s son plans to enroll at CSU next fall to study engineering.


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