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Into the Wild Blue Yonder - March 29, 2019

Space... the Final Frontier

Q: He just knew those STEM classes would pay off! First he graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a degree in astronautical engineering. Then, he got a master's degree from M.I.T. Today, he's the only Kansan hanging out on the International Space Station.  What's his name and where is his hometown?

A: Nick Hague / Hoxie, Kansas (Belleville is also acceptable)

Born in Belleville, Kansas, in 1979, Nick Hague considers Hoxie his hometown. But Hoxie couldn't hold him. Neither could the Earth, for that matter. He's up in space, as part of the current six-person crew onboard the International Space Station. But let's back up. You can't become an astronaut overnight, even if you are from Kansas, which has produced a steady stream of top-notch rocket men, including astronauts Ron Evans, Joe Engle and Steve Hawley.  Let's not overlook the first African American named to NASA's astronaut program. That would be Captain Edward J. Dwight, Jr. of Kansas City, Kansas. Unlike Evans, Engle and Hawley, Dwight didn't make it into outer space, but became a world-class sculptor instead.

Back to Nick Hague. After graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy and from M.I.T. with degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, Hague was selected to go to astronaut school. He chosen in 2013 as one of eight members of the 21st NASA astronaut class. In August 2013, he began Astronaut Candidate Training, which included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in International Space Station systems, spacewalks, Russian Language training, Robotics, physiological training, flight training and water and wilderness survival training. Hague completed astronaut candidate training in July 2015. Finally, all those STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) classes and training paid off. Hague was the first astronaut from his class to be assigned to a mission which launched on October 11, 2018.

Unfortunately, he and his crewmate Alexey Ovchinin, of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, were forced to abort the mission when a rocket booster experienced a malfunction shortly after the launch of their Soyuz MS-10. The aborted spacecraft landed safely. That failed first mission could have been Hague's last shot at space. But it wasn't. He's currently part of the Expedition 59 and 60 crew that launched to the International Space Station in March 2019. He's the fourth Kansan to make it to outer space. And we think that's pretty cool.  

Checkout our previous Kansas Trivia questions.

Our weekly Kansas Trivia contest can be heard most Fridays at 9 am on KPR. 

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