Astronaut tells Whitewater students to follow dreams

by Andrew Batten and Frank DeLoache


Students and staff at Whitewater Middle School greeted a visitor from outer space on March 4, but this wasn’t the alien type.

Astronaut Dr. Lee Morin made a special visit to the school to talk about his adventures and work on the International Space Station.

“Anything anybody does comes from an idea,” Morin said. “Take your fantasies and make them a reality.”

Students were eager to learn about the astronaut and his experience.

“I am excited to learn about how people can get to space,” sixth-grader Nicole Lewis said.

“Meeting an astronaut is so cool,” fellow sixth-grader Deazia Washington said. “I have so many questions about rockets and spaceships.”

Morin rocketed to the International Space Station on Mission STS-110 in April 2002, aboard the shuttle Atlantis. He flew on the 13th shuttle mission to the space station. Morin told students about the creation and workings of the International Space Station.

“The International Space Station took many ideas and people working together,” Morin said.

Astronaut Dr. Lee Morin speaks to Whitewater Middle School students and teachers March 4 about his adventures.

Morin also stressed to students the importance of following dreams. He was interested in space as a child and read many books about the topic. He shared some of those books with Whitewater students during his visit.

A native of Manchester, N.H., Morin is 58 years old, and he and his wife have two children and two grandchildren.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) website, he graduated from the New York University School of Medicine in 1974, received a master of science in biochemistry in 1978, his medical degree in 1981 and a Ph.D. in microbiology in 1982.

He is certified as a flight surgeon as well as a submarine medical officer and was recalled to active duty during Operation Desert Shield.

NASA officials did not select Morin as an astronaut candidate until April 1996, when he was already 43 years old.

He reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1996 and had to then complete two years of training.

On his shuttle flight in 2002, the Atlantis crew delivered and installed the S-Zero Truss, and during that mission, the station for the first time used its robotic arm to maneuver spacewalkers around the station, according to NASA’s website.

Morin himself took two spacewalks, spending a total of 14 hours and 9 minutes outside the space station. Morin and his crewmates prepared the station for future spacewalks and spent a week in joint operations with the stations Expedition-4 crew.

The Atlantis crew remained in space 10 days, 19 hours and 42 minutes, according to NASA.

Today, Morin is assigned to the Exploration Branch, where he is working on the cockpit of NASA’s newest spacecraft, the Crew Exploration Vehicle. According to another website, Morin “is leading the rapid prototyping of the cockpit for the new Orion spacecraft and is deputy lead of the Orion Cockpit Working Group.”

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