Astronaut Inspires Local Students

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COLUMBIA - Astronaut Sandra Magnus visited Hickman High School Thursday to share her "out of this world" experience with students and parents.

More than 25 people gathered in Hickman High School's Little Theater to learn from Magnus. Many of the students in attendance participate in Columbia Aeronautics and Space Association, or CASA.

Magnus' lessons focused on believing in one's own abilities, even when life has other plans.

"Life is going to throw you curve balls," Magnus said. "All it takes is some hard work, persistence and belief in yourself," she added.

CASA members participate in activities that resemble those of NASA. The class teaches skills involved in mission management, weather casting and flight simulation. Members will fly a mock space shuttle mission in February and spend a majority of the school year preparing for the "flight to space."

High school senior Amanda Steinmetz participates in CASA. She hopes to have a career much like Magnus someday.

"I would like to work for NASA and help improve where space flight is going in the future."

Thoughts of the more immediate future are focused on CASA's simulation flight. The discussion with Magnus gave many students ideas to further improve their upcoming mission.

Magnus has participated in three missions to space. Her most recent trip included a four and a half month stay at the International Space Station. In total, Magnus has traveled more than 55 million miles.