Astronaut speaks to RCSD students about work, entertainment, and food aboard International Space Station

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INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION — Astronaut Josh Cassada, who earned his doctorate in physics from the University of Rochester, showed students of the Rochester City School District how he eats, sleeps, and works in space.

Cassada appeared on a video call live from the International Space Station on Friday to answer questions from students of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School No. 9. You can watch his conversation on NASA TV here.

Cassada launched to the International Space Station as a pilot aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft last October 5. He said that, five minutes before the conversation started, the space station passed over Rochester.

Cassada showed students the food he eats in space, which includes dried nutrition packets and tortillas. During the video call, he made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a tortilla and bottles that floated in the air.

One student asked about the difference in gravity at the space station compared to Earth. Cassada explained that, although the station still has 90% of the gravity that Earth has, the station is always falling towards Earth making the astronauts feel weightless. The station will never reach Earth because it revolves around the Earth every 90 minutes.

Other students asked about recreation on the space station. Cassada said that Houston occasionally broadcasts Television up to the station and they will likely watch the Super Bowl on Sunday. He said the crew also plays a game called “astronaut bowling”, where they try to float from one end of the space station to another without hitting anything.

Cassada showed the students the tomato plant the crew is trying to grow and the toolbox he uses on spacewalks outside the station, which take up to seven hours. He also showed students pictures of crew members in their sleeping bags, which are attached to the wall to prevent them from drifting.

He said his interest in conducting research in space was inspired by his love for discovery, which grew as he studied high-energy physics at the U of R.

A student asked Cassada: “what happens if an astronaut doesn’t get along with another astronaut? Cassada said his crew spent time together before going into space and put themselves in difficult situations to make sure they can walk through problems.

“Fortunately, I’m up here with incredible people and that’s not by accident. We work really hard at NASA to make sure that we understand each other and we can work well,” he said.

Cassada says he will return to Earth in three weeks. The students watched the live video from the Strasenburgh Planetarium at the Rochester Museum & Science Center.