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Space Broncos will be out of this world in May

A group of Boise State students will feel like they’re out of this world come May.

The Team Swanson portion of Boise State’s Space Broncos are, according to their official website, an “interdisciplinary group of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and liberal arts students enrolled in a special topics-leadership practicum course  the College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs.” The course is represented by students from every college in the university.

Recently, Boise State named NASA astronaut Steve Swanson, Ph.D., as its newest Professor in Practice.

This honor, according to  campus update, is used to “identify accomplished business, scientific and artistic leaders to bring their experiences to students.”

It will also be  an honor for the Space Broncos, as they will get a chance to communicate with Swanson when he is aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

John Garretson, a senior communication major and a member of the Space Broncos, was thrilled to hear Swanson was named Boise State’s new Professor in Practice.

Swanson, who has been an astronaut since 1998, is no stranger to the ISS. He was a part of the Atlantis Shuttle Mission to the ISS in 2007 where he preformed two space walks and the Discovery Space Shuttle Mission to the ISS in 2009 where he also preformed two

In those two missions alone, Swanson traveled over 11.1 million miles.

“I think it’s fantastic that Steve was named Professor in Practice because it’s not only a great highlight for Steve’s long list of accolades, but it’s also something Boise State and its students should be proud of, having a world-class individual bring his experiences and knowledge to our university,”
Garretson said.

Swanson’s expertise is already being put to use through the Space Broncos’ development of a “downlink and space symposium” which will allow for communication between Swanson and students in May while he is worlds away.

Camille Eddy, a freshman mechanical engineering major and the community engagement leader for the Space Broncos, hopes Boise State students will turn out for the downlink.

“We hope to have a large turnout of Boise State students from all different disciplines that are interested in space, innovation and sustainability the morning of Tuesday, May 6,” Eddy said. “We hope to move the whole campus to become aware of the positive influence NASA has brought to our school.”

Though the Space Broncos haven’t physically met with Swanson (he’s been preparing for his voyage), Garretson said the group is excited to be able to communicate with him, using Skype and other social media outlets come May.

“With Steve in the ISS, there’s delay in connection/interaction, so we’ve been meeting with a NASA liaison via weekly Skype meetings to figure out the logistics for it,” Garretson said. “However, social media has been and will be a prominent means of interaction with Steve.”

Team Swanson hopes to encourage all Boise State students to participate in the downlink, no matter their major or area of  interest.

“Scientists and engineers aren’t the only ones that can be interested in NASA news, we all play a part in attaining knowledge about space and getting that information out to the world to be enjoyed,” Eddy said.

Swanson will leave for the ISS in March, taking over as the ISS commander in May, when Expedition 40 begins.