Many children who have grown up in the Houston region have attended NASA’s Johnson Space Center on school field trips or with their families.
Stafford Middle School student Nikko Cavazos is no exception.
“I had gotten a telescope one Christmas, and I wanted to use it really bad,” Cavazos said. “I was looking at a bunch of stars, and I even saw one of the planets. I think it was Saturn.”
Cavazos and other students from across the Houston area — including Stafford and Sugar Land — got a chance last Wednesday to experience a glimpse of life aboard the International Space Station with astronaut Megan McArthur. She fielded prerecorded questions from children during a virtual event hosted by NASA and The Ismaili Council of the Southwestern U.S.
Students from Fort Bend ISD and The Honor Roll School in Sugar Land were also among those who took part in the Q&A session with McArthur.
Cavazos, a seventh grader, asked McArthur during the event what she believed was the most beautiful thing she had seen in space.
“The most beautiful thing I’ve seen from space is our Earth,” McArthur said. “We have such a beautiful planet, and when we get time, we love to look out the window. Whether we’re passing over the ocean and you have these beautiful, unusual cloud formations, or you’re passing over land and you can see some gorgeous mountains, maybe with snow on the top. Another thing that’s really beautiful to watch is lightning storms over the surface of the earth. The way the clouds light up, and then the light moves inside the clouds, it’s very beautiful.”
McArthur also answered questions about NASA’s communication and safety protocols and demonstrated how liquids and foods move in a zero-gravity environment hundreds of miles above Earth’s surface.
The Cavazos family has lived in Stafford for nearly 20 years. Nikko said he went to visit NASA in Houston when he was 4 or 5 with his parents, Laina Cavazos and Jose Cavazos. Jose said he was thrilled that he and Laina have passed down their shared love of space and science to their son.
“We’ve always been so fascinated with space,” Laina said. “Ever since our children were little, we’d tell them, ‘Look up at the stars and you never know what you might see.’ ”
Nikko said he hopes to follow a scientific path when he grows up.
“I would like to be an astrophysicist and study the universe,” he said. “And all of the theories and the planets, stars, and how they came to exist.”
Jose, who works in the manufacturing, design and architecture fields, said he is interested in the innovations that can result from space exploration.
‘There’s a lot of things that go into those kinds of professions that really get developed and refined and maybe some new things come out (because of) the space program,” Jose said. “Our children are hopefully going to be a part of that.”