Fincke chat spurs on students

Astronaut speaks to Manipur varsity pupils from space
Imphal, Feb 9 : Spaceman Mike Fincke today encouraged students from the Northeast to “dream, study and go to realise them”, during a 10-minute chat from space.
Aptly called the son-in-law of the Northeast after he married Renita Saikia, an Assamese, Fincke spoke highly of the region.
“The Northeast is one of the most beautiful regions in the world. You have a huge stock of natural resources, preserve them. You can do wonderful things. Dream and study,” Fincke, the commander of the International Space Station’s Expedition 18, told a group of students gathered at Central Agricultural University.
Nearly 400 students, teachers and guardians were present at the university at Eroisemba, on the outskirts of Imphal city. However, only 14 students from the university could speak to him over the telephone.
The Amateur Radio Ground Station based at Queensland, Australia, co-ordinated the space talk.
The questions ranged from the objectives of the ISS to whether the programme would help produce more food and remove hunger, from how risky a space walk is to whether the Northeast was visible from the space station.
“I have often moved above Manipur and have seen Loktak lake. It is a beautiful lake. I have my family in Assam. Let’s see whether I find time to visit Manipur,” Fincke said.
On whether he knows any of the Manipuri words, he said khurumjari (namaskar) and aphaba oibiyu (good luck).
He signed off saying, “I wish everyone gathered good luck.”
“This is a very unique experience. Now I want to be an astronaut, too,” Chanthingla Horam, a Class XI Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya student, said.
Samik Chowdhury, a BSc (agriculture) student from Tripura, said, “I am one of few lucky students. I may not be able to become an astronaut, but speaking to him is a great experience.”
The Friends of Assam and Seven Sisters, an international think tank welfare organisation for the Northeast, sponsored and co-ordinated the event.
Imphal is the fourth place where such talks have been held. Earlier, programmes were held at Dibrugarh, Shillong and Guwahati.