Posted March 5, 2014

Temple students interview space-station crew live on TUTV

  • Mechanical engineering senior Caley Roberson shows her question about using a 3-D printer on the space station. (photo by Joseph V. Labolito/Temple University)
  • Producer Stephanie Craig offers some last-minute instruction to co-anchors Nick Lucier and Karina Cheung. (photo by Joseph V. Labolito/Temple University)
  • Aryann Cuda, Ankit Patel, Seth Wozniak and Dan Marcel ensure that the broadcast runs smoothly from the control room. (photo by Joseph V. Labolito/Temple University)
  • A monitor in the Kal and Lucille Rudman Media Production Center shows the video feed from the space station. (photo by Joseph V. Labolito/Temple University)
  • The interview with the space-station crew lasted more than 15 minutes. (photo by Joseph V. Labolito/Temple University)

An event last week marked the first time a person being interviewed on TUTV-Temple University Television was weightless.

American astronauts Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata fielded questions from Temple students in the College of Engineering and the School of Media and Communication during a live interview from the International Space Station (ISS), 250 miles above the Indian Ocean, Feb. 27, 2014.

The conversation on TUTV Presents: Space Station Live touched on the mental and physical preparation behind a space walk and some of the new technology being tested on the ISS.

The experience was thrilling for everyone involved. When the program ended, a whooping cheer erupted in the Kal and Lucille Rudman Media Production Center.

“It was the craziest thing I’ve ever done,” said junior media studies and production major Karina Cheung, who co-anchored the show with fellow media-studies major Nick Lucier, a senior. “To actually talk to people in space, just floating there and passing the mic—which was floating through the air—was an amazing experience.”

Cheung admitted that the only things she had learned about space previously have come from the TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory. So she put a lot of her energy into research about the ISS before the live broadcast.

“Luckily, my co-anchor was a space nut, so he knew a lot,” she said. “The hardest thing for me while researching was trying to comprehend all the terms they use. I knew I had to wrap my brain around the vocabulary well enough to be able to explain it in a way everyone could understand.”

The College of Engineering students who participated are part of Associate Professor John Helferty’s Student Space Exploration and Environmental Systems Laboratory, a program funded by NASA.

“We’ve worked with the student space lab for more than 20 years here, and the experience to have students actually talk to astronauts on the space station is the ultimate,” Helferty said following the broadcast.

Caley Roberson, a senior mechanical engineering major, works with a 3-D printer in the College of Engineering and asked the astronauts about the one the ISS will have soon.

“I was curious about some of the issues that they’re going to have with a zero-gravity 3-D printer,” she explained. “If [our printer is] not kept at a continuous temperature, parts of it can get colder and contract before the rest of an item is printed. I was wondering what that’s going to be like up there.”

The astronauts were not really sure.

“It’s nice to know that even NASA learns by experience,” Roberson said.

TUTV is planning to air the ISS interview as a part of a larger special about space exploration in mid-March. The station can be viewed on cable within Philadelphia on Comcast channel 50 and Verizon channel 45 or online at

Programming like TUTV Presents: Space Station Live is made possible through a grant from the Kal and Lucille Rudman Foundation.


–Jeff Cronin