U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris made a special call to the International Space Station (ISS) to celebrate Women's History Month and some of the ground-breaking work astronauts are doing in orbit.
NASA shared a video of the conversation between Harris and astronauts Shannon Walker and Kate Rubins, who are currently working aboard the ISS for a six-month mission. The call, which NASA released on YouTube Wednesday (March 24), came amid Women's History Month.
"Greetings from the White House, which is where I am right now," Harris said excitedly at the beginning of the video. "Congratulations on all of your success and just being women in space — you all are such incredible role models."
Harris asked Walker and Rubins about the research they are currently working on and to share advice for kids who may be interested in becoming astronauts or scientists.
"I don't think any of us ever really thought we would be astronauts," Rubins, who was the first person to sequence DNA in space, said in the video. "So I would encourage everybody who's even thinking about it, just don't hold yourself back. All of our crew members do what we do because we love it. We love every minute of it."
Some of the research being conducted on the space station today includes studying thousands of tiny worms to look at how muscle strength changes in the environment of space, and working with free-floating satellites that will aid future explorations to the moon and Mars.
These satellites, called Astrobees, work alongside the astronauts autonomously or via remote control. The robots are designed to perform routine chores and tasks around the space station, such as documenting experiments, working together to move cargo or helping find lost pieces of equipment. The astronauts are testing the robotic technology so that the Astrobees can one day maintain future spacecraft while the crew is away, Walker explained in the video.
"Science is hard work and people get scared by the coursework, and they think it's rigorous and it's going to be too hard for them," Rubins said in the video. "Science is amazing — it is so much fun, it makes every day fun, and we love it. We love doing science in space."
Harris expressed her gratitude for the astronauts' work and extended an invitation to them to come visit the White House when they return to Earth.
Last month I spoke with Astronauts Dr. Shannon Walker and Dr. Kate Rubins aboard the International Space Station. They are setting an example for little girls around the world to dream big, lead with conviction, and to see themselves as the scientists and astronauts of tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/tQR5lK7JSYMarch 24, 2021
"Last month I spoke with Astronauts Dr. Shannon Walker and Dr. Kate Rubins aboard the International Space Station. They are setting an example for little girls around the world to dream big, lead with conviction, and to see themselves as the scientists and astronauts of tomorrow," Harris said in a tweet.
This wasn't the first time Harris called the space station since taking office. In February she called the orbiting laboratory to congratulate NASA astronaut Victor Glover for becoming the first Black astronaut to fly a long-duration mission to the space station. Glover, who arrived at the ISS on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule in November, is now four months into his planned six-month stay.
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