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Osage Nation students talk to the first Indigenous woman in space on NASA downlink from ISS

The International Space Station astronaut provided an exciting glimpse into space for Osage youth on November 23, 2022.


Students from the Osage Nation had the opportunity on Wednesday to ask NASA astronaut Nicole Mann questions about all things space.

Over a remote video link from the International Space Station to Pawhuska, Mann, a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes and the first Native American woman to go to space, answered questions ranging from how the space station is powered to whether astronauts grow tomatoes. Mann has been on her ISS mission since October 5.

She also discussed how to track meteors from space and announced an upcoming freighter that will provide scientific material for an experiment called Veggie 5. The program will allow astronauts to determine the best way to grow dwarf tomatoes in a variety of growing environments in the space. At the end, astronauts will taste the tomatoes to choose the best, she said in the video.

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“This is important because if we go to Mars for a two- to three-year mission, the freeze-dried food we have will lose its nutritional value in that time, so we’ll have to supplement it with freshly grown fruits and vegetables,” he said. Mann.

Mann ended the session by demonstrating a zero-gravity flip from the video recording.

The Osage Nation STEAM program — with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, arts and math — enabled students to prepare for the event with space-related activities, including a summer rocket launch, according to an Osage Nation press release.

“This event really epitomizes what we’re trying to do here, and we appreciate NASA sharing our mission to educate and inspire Indigenous youth,” Mary Wildcat, the director of education at Osage Nation who worked with NASA team members to set up the event, said in the release.

Osage students from the community and from the Osage Nation’s Daposka Ahnkodapi Elementary School, an Osage language and culture immersion school in Pawhuska, participated in the event at the Osage County Fairgrounds.

The students will be able to remember this moment “for the rest of their lives,” Patrick Martin, Superintendent of Daposka Ahnkodapi, said in the release.

Featured Video: First NASA Mission Led by a Native American Woman Underway

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched its crew right into the history books. Aboard the Dragon pod, Mission Commander Nicole Mann has gone where no other native woman has gone before. “I’m very proud to represent Native Americans and my heritage. You know, it’s interesting. We all come from very unique, different backgrounds,” said Mann. Born in California and a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian tribes, Mann is a Stanford-trained mechanical engineer and Marine F-18 fighter pilot. This is her first trip to space, nearly a decade after she was chosen to participate in NASA’s astronaut class in 2013. “I’m thrilled to be joining the NASA team and look forward to the next two years of training,” said Mann. Despite tensions between US and Russian President Vladimir Putin over the invasion of Ukraine, the countries in space are still working together. For the first time, a Russian cosmonaut was aboard a SpaceX capsule. The crew of four will conduct hundreds of experiments aboard the International Space Station over the next five months. SEE MORE: Russian launches to space from US, first time in 20 years


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