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Kansas Students Meet First Native American in Space Dec. 6

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Former NASA astronaut and children’s book author, Commander John B. Herrington, Chickasaw, will be at the Cosmosphere on Tuesday, December 6.

At 10:00 a.m., Herrington will teach students from districts in Cosmosphere’s LaunchLearning program about the process for naming stars and planets, and about how names can express culture.

At 1:30 p.m., Herrington will sit down with K-3rd grade LaunchLearning students for a very special story time. He will read from his own book for young children, “Mission to Space,” published by Chickasaw press and available for purchase in the Cosmosphere gift shop.

Students from anywhere in Kansas can join either of these events free via livestream. Teachers can contact [email protected] for access instructions.

Also on December 6, Herrington and Cosmosphere staff will film a video submission to an International Astronomical Union competition to name a star and planet. Their proposed name for the star and planet will be revealed that morning and will have Chickasaw cultural significance. The video will become part of the classroom materials available through the LaunchLearning program.

Commander John B. Herrington is a retired Naval Aviator and engineer who holds a PhD in education. He now devotes himself to teaching others about the importance of understanding and caring for the Earth through science and exploration. In 2002, Herrington launched aboard STS-113, the sixteenth space shuttle mission to the International Space Station. He became the first NASA astronaut from a federally recognized tribe to fly to space.

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The Cosmosphere International SciEd Center & Space Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate. Located at 1100 North Plum in Hutchinson, KS, its collection includes U.S. space artifacts second only to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Moscow. This unique collection allows the Cosmosphere to tell the story of the Space Race better than any museum in the world while offering fully immersive education experiences that meet Next Generation Science Standards. The Cosmosphere also features the Carey Digital Dome Theater, offering daily documentary showings, a digital Planetarium, Dr. Goddard’s Lab, where visitors experience live science demonstrations, and CosmoKids, an interactive STEM area for children accompanied by an adult.