Texas Master Naturalist astronaut space downlink June 14

Kjell Lindgren, NASA astronaut and Texas Master Naturalist who commanded the SpaceX Crew-4 shuttle journey to the International Space Station, ISS, in late April, is offering a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the Texas Master Naturalist program.

Texas Master Naturalist Kjell Lindgren sitting at communications center on the International Space Station
Texas Master Naturalist and astronaut Kjell Lindgren at the communications center on the International Space Station. (Photo courtesy NASA/Johnson Space Center)

The Texas Master Naturalist program is a collaborative volunteer program of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Lindgren, who is on the ISS and will remain there until at least late summer or early fall, is providing the opportunity to “downlink” with the Texas Master Naturalist program June 14

The downlink is scheduled for 3:30-3:55 pm with the set-up starting at 3 pm It will be live-streamed on the Texas Master Naturalist programs YouTube Channelwith more details on how to watch at https://tx.ag/TMNinSpace.

Those interested are requested to stay tuned to the Texas Master Naturalist website as final tech is set up for this event, said Mary Pearl Meuth, AgriLife Extension’s Texas Master Naturalist assistant state coordinator, Bryan-College Station. Please also anticipate that the final times for the downlink must remain flexible based on mission priorities on the ISS.

“Kjell, who is a member of the Gulf Coast Chapter, is the first Texas Master Naturalist to go into space,” Meuth said. “The astronauts get their choice to do a private or public downlink event from space, and he has chosen to communicate with his fellow Texas Master Naturalists while in space.”

Connecting with naturalists from space

Meuth said during the downlink, Lindgren will connect the work he is doing as part of his mission on the ISS to the service Texas Master Naturalists provide and answer questions his fellow naturalist volunteers may have.

A man, Kjell Lindgren, eats lettuce in the confines of the International Space Station
Kjell Lindgren eating lettuce grown on the International Space Station as one of the many experiments conducted on a previous mission. (NASA photo)

“In preparation for this downlink, we have collected questions from fellow Texas Master Naturalists,” Meuth said. “We will review and synthesize the questions collected, get them approved via the NASA astronaut team, and then submit them to Kjell to review and prep for his downlink discussion.”

She noted that not every question submitted or even approved for Kjell’s response will have a chance to be answered.

“The event is a 20-minute discussion between the TMN state office and Kjell on the ISS, with those questions being the source for discussion,” Meuth said.

The ability for Master Naturalists to connect with one of their own in space is an exciting and unique opportunity, Meuth said, but the downlink is also open to the public.

“We’ll get a chance to learn about his experience with the Texas Master Naturalist program from space and ask questions about his research on the ISS,” she said.

The Texas Master Naturalist program’s mission is to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. Learn more about joining the program and find your local chapter at https://tx.ag/BeATexasMasterNaturalist.

Lindgren has also been invited to be the keynote speaker for the Texas Master Naturalist annual meeting in October.


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