Spokane astronaut Anne McClain went safely to the International Space Station as students from her alma mater in Spokane watched, some marveling.
McClain, who graduated from Gonzaga Prep in 1997, took off and traveled at a speed of 7 km / second Monday in a Russian Soyuz MS-11 plane that circled the Earth four times and was associated with the space station.
At Gonzaga Prep, the students went to science classes to watch them. And who knows, in a few months, they will even be able to register on the phone.
"I'm just lucky to see a great person realize his dreams," said 16-year-old Rigée Olavides. "It's really inspiring to see someone who dreams of becoming an astronaut become one."
Olavides was one of many students crowded Monday morning into a large science classroom, eagerly looking at a live video stream of NASA showing McClain and two other astronauts navigating in a Soyuz spacecraft moving at around 10 o'clock. centimeters per second towards a welcome bay. International Space Station.
NASA and Roscosmos said all the embedded systems were working normally and the astronauts felt good during the six-hour trip to the space station. After waiting two hours in their capsule to confirm that their ship was docked at the station, they left the capsule to join three astronauts already aboard the outpost in orbit at 11:40 am, Spokane time.
The six-month mission, dubbed Expedition 58, was launched Monday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome rented by Russia, Kazakhstan, at 3:31 am, scheduled time by Spokane. McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmo, made contact with the ISS six hours later, around 9:30 am, after completing four Earth orbits.
A few moments before the arrival of the profession, a message was broadcast on the Gonzaga Prep sound system, urging teachers to allow their students to walk around the nearest science classroom to watch the story. of a former student.
"She's helping this landing," said Karen Round of McClain, reminding her AP biology class what was at stake. "She and the other two astronauts."
Shari Manikowski, a mathematics teacher who taught and coached McClain, was a name that often reverberated between teachers and students. The two men remained connected over the years, even when McClain's career took her from Gonzaga University to West Point, and then to NASA.
Manikowski was even invited to attend the launch and berthing at NASA's Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center in Houston, where she was on Monday morning while her students praised Spokane.
"She really wants to inspire students," said Molly Niedermeyer, 17, a senior who had taken algebra with Manikowski last year.
"She's really trying," said Ned McEwen, 17.
As the clock strikes at 9:30, students and faculty enter the Round classroom. A large screen at the front of the room shows a video of an unattractive scene of a reticle, flanked and surrounded by words written in Russian, moving slowly towards a target.
Gonzaga Prep President Michael Dougherty broke the silence.
"She sent a message to Mrs. Manikowski on the way to the launch by thanking him for being my teacher," he told the students. "Nothing could be colder."
After a few moments, a voice on NASA's video stream suggested that things go as planned. "The catch is confirmed," he said. "Good contact," said another voice.
And then, silence with a live photo of NASA scientists sitting behind computer terminals.
"I am moved by watching this," said Round, who began teaching Gonzaga a year after graduation. "There is just that energy and enthusiasm behind all that. And the fear that surrounds it. "
McClain, Saint-Jacques and Kononenko will spend more than six months on the space station conducting research and experiments in biology, earth sciences, physical sciences and technology.
Associated Press contributed to this report.