News

Grad speech from space

Grad speech from space

HELLO, FROM SPACE!:Rick Mastracchio works to replace a pump in a spacesuit aboard the International Space Station. Mastracchio, a University of Connecticut alumnus, is scheduled to deliver the school's commencement address on May 10 from aboard the International Space Station. Mastracchio served as a commencement speaker for his alma mater, the University of Connecticut. Photo: Associated Press

By Richard Weizel

STORRS Conn. (Reuters) – University of Connecticut alumnus Rick Mastracchio took a break from orbiting the globe on the International Space Station to deliver an address to students graduating from the university’s School of Engineering on Saturday.

With a large black UConn banner and UConn baseball cap floating behind him, Mastracchio hovered between two space suits and spun upside down several times during the pre-recorded address for the 400 graduates and a crowd of about 5,000 at the university.

“I could not be there with you on this big day, but being in space I was trying to figure out how to make this speech different than all the other commencement addresses that are given each year,” he said.

“And then I realized – I’m in a weightless environment. So maybe, I should give the speech in a different orientation.”

Mastracchio, 54, who is on an eight-month stint on the space station, then floated upside down, before spinning back to an upright position, bringing laughs and cheers from graduates and their families.

“I probably have the best job on and off the planet,” he said.

Kazem Kazerounian, dean of the engineering school, who set up the speech from space, said: “Many of us, faculty and students, were inspired to become engineers because of space exploration and this was a perfect way to bring more reality to our dreams.”

Mastracchio, who will return to Earth next week aboard a Russian spacecraft after completing his fourth trip into space, had a final message as he grabbed and put on the UConn baseball cap.

“Go Huskies,” he said, referring to the nickname for the school’s sports teams, as he spun upside down again.

Latest Headlines

in Local

Maine Elver Fishing Quota May be Slightly Reduced

Fresh
GENERIC ELVERS LARGE

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ Maine's baby eel fishermen might see a slightly reduced quota in 2015.

in Local

Lobsterman Jailed, Fined Over Illegal Lobsters

Fresh
Newsradio WGAN

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) _ A Maine lobsterman who kept undersized and V-notched lobsters has been sentenced to two days in jail and fined $50,000. The Department of Marine Resources is also suspending his license for three years.

in Local

Democrat Cain Skipping 2nd District Debate

GENERIC VOTE

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ A Maine television station has canceled a debate in the race for the 2nd Congressional District seat after Democrat Emily Cain said she wouldn't attend.

in Local

Maine Agency Approves Poland Springs Water Deal

Newsradio WGAN

FRYEBURG, Maine (AP) _ The Maine Public Utilities Commission says Fryeburg Water Co. can enter into a long-term contract to sell water to Nestle Waters, bottler of Poland Springs.

in Local

Pot Activist, Maine Police Chief Debate Marijuana

GENERIC MARIJUANA SMOKER LARGE

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ A pro-marijuana activist and a Maine police chief sparred in a debate about referendums that would legalize recreational use of the drug in two cities.