HAZARD, Ky. (FOX 56) – Students at several southeast Kentucky school districts got the rare chance to talk with an astronaut on board the International Space Station. The students are part of the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky’s STAR program: Students Teaching Astro Research. Two students were selected from 13 southeast school districts to take their skills back to the classroom. This event was a unique highlight for the center.

“They only do these maybe once or twice a month and they receive hundreds of applications so were very lucky to be selected,” Charles Bush office manager of the Challenger Learning Center, told FOX 56.

Astronaut Jessica Watkins got to take questions from Kentucky students on everything in the stars.

“I just want to say I am so excited to be speaking to you all, I know it’s been a challenging past few weeks for you all there and I just hope today can be a little bit of an escape and we can have a bit of fun together,” Watkins opened.

Allison McLaughlin is one of the lucky students who got to ask a question.

“My question is what is the most difficult thing you had to overcome during training,” she said during the downlink.

“That was really cool, especially hearing them answer your questions live and just seeing how the microphone just floats and it’s not going to drop,” she said, speaking after the event with FOX 56.

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, a former educator, was present at the event and remarked on how beneficial the opportunity was for the young students and offered encouragement as flood recovery continues in the community.

“It gives you hope, especially at a time where families are struggling here in eastern Kentucky. We’ve been on the ground here with folks for weeks on end now in the aftermath of the flood and to see kids smile and to know that they had this to look forward to and this opportunity was there for them I think says everything we need to say about the way we come together in the State of Kentucky,” she told FOX 56.

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