HOUSTON, June 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today will mark another first in the history of America's space program. Shannon Walker, NASA's first native Houston astronaut, will make her initial trip to space.
Walker will fly to the International Space Station as an Expedition 24/25 crew member aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Launch is scheduled for 4:35 p.m. CDT Tuesday, June 15, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
To honor her Houston connections, including Houston schools, Walker launched a YouTube video contest last spring asking the question "Why should the United States explore space?" Three Houston area students won the contest by creatively using video to communicate the importance of exploring space. The winners will get several opportunities to learn more about space.
Nicole Lewis and Lauren Gray, two students at Bauerschlag Elementary in the Clear Creek Independent School District, presented "Why the United States Should Explore Space" to win the elementary school-aged contest.
Deanna Hausman, a student of Beckendorff Jr. High in the Katy Independent School District, submitted "We Choose Space", which was the middle school winning entry.
Manjot Singh Jawa, a student at Jersey Village High School in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, submitted "Generation's Dreams," which was selected as the high school winning entry.
Both winning videos are available for viewing on NASA's official YouTube site:
As a reward for their hard work, Lewis, Gray and Jawa have been invited to the Mission Control Center at NASA's Johnson Space Center to watch Walker launch into space.
When Walker returns to Houston in November after her long-duration stay aboard the space station, she will meet the students to present them with Expedition 24/25 patches that were flown in space.
Because Walker was born and raised in Houston and completed all of her schooling in the Houston region, she focused the contest on Houston area students who are following a similar educational path through Houston schools.
The video contest was part of an effort to engage more children in the space program through a medium they understand: video.
Walker graduated from Westbury Senior High. She has been employed at JSC since 1987. She was selected as an astronaut in May 2004.
For more information on Walker, visit:
For the latest information about the International Space Station and its crew, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station