SCHOOL

Former classmate visits Hamilton as space shuttle astronaut

Thursday 12 March 2009, 1:35PM
By Hamilton City Council
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HAMILTON

Keeping in touch with old school friends back in America has led to a visit to Hamilton by current space shuttle pilot Colonel Eric Boe.

When Hamilton City Council employee Ree Varcoe found out through friends one of her old classmates had just flown a space shuttle mission as captain, the idea of bringing a real NASA astronaut to her sons' school had instant appeal.

After some negotiation with NASA it is now all happening with Colonel Boe arriving in Hamilton this Sunday (15 March) with his wife Kristen Boe. They have a programme of school visits and speaking engagements in the city for the week.

Ree remembers her now famous classmate as "the quiet brainy type" at school in Atlanta.

"It's great to be able to take advantage of this connection to help bring such an interesting person to Hamilton. Eric has a message for young people that you can achieve the highest goals … even if you come from an ordinary high school in Atlanta Georgia.

Colonel Boe will be visiting and speaking at Hamilton high schools through the week and has a public presentation at The Meteor on Wednesday evening.

He also plans to fit in some deep sea fishing off the coast of Raglan during the weekend.

The space shuttle mission of last November saw one of the biggest payloads of equipment ever taken to a space station. It also resulted in significant repairs being carried out to solar equipment on the space station with the space walk maintenance activity co-ordinated by Colonel Boe.

Among the topics expected to be covered by Colonel Boe during his Hamilton visit will be some of the ground breaking technologies developed during the shuttle missions. The subject of conspiracy theories held by some people that space missions and moon walks are invented rather than real may also be discussed.