Astronaut shares outer space experience with students - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Astronaut shares outer space experience with students

NASA astronaut Dan Tani NASA astronaut Dan Tani
Claude Onizuka Claude Onizuka
Ellison Onizuka Ellison Onizuka

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In thirty minutes, astronaut Dan Tani can take an audience on a tour through a frontier most of mankind only sees in pictures -- outer space.

"We're the lucky ones that get to experience weightlessness and look at the beautiful earth," he said.

Tani has worked for NASA since 1996. He's a veteran of two space flights and has logged 131 days hovering over planet earth.

On Thursday he shared his experience with Kaimuki middle-schoolers.

"I never thought that I would hear an astronaut tell me the kind of stuff that happened to him in space," seventh grader Jada Spencer said.

"It's our responsibility to try to bring some of that excitement back to earth, and then maybe get the kids interested in learning more about space or geology or physics or something," Tani said.

The story of Hawaii astronaut Ellison Onizuka sparked Tani's interest in space flight.

Onizuka's brother, Claude, arranged the school assembly to inspire youngsters. He said he's seen it happen before. The last was a youngster at Iolani School

"And he went home and told his dad that he wants to be an astronaut. That's the spark we want to put into the children," he said.

When Tani's not working at NASA's Houston headquarters, he travels as an astronaut ambassador, sending kids home with expanded horizons.

"I guess the joy of seeing the world from the outside instead of standing here on the earth," 12-year-old Logan Matsuoka said.

"We have greens and blues and oranges and reds. The textures are all different. It's spectacular to see the earth from a distance," Tani said.

He said sharing his space message never gets old because someone in the audience may be an astronaut in the making

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