Three local seventh graders are joining students from across the nation to ask questions of NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The Earth-to-space downlink will air live at 12:10 p.m. (CST) tomorrow, June 19 on NASA Television and the agency's website at

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, Christopher Cassidy and Douglas Hurley will answer questions recorded by K-12 students from the Challenger Center's national network of learning centers.

Aiden Ledbetter, who attends Massac Junior High and Paducah Middle School's Nathan Franklin and Brady Sanderson will represent the Challenger Learning Center of Paducah. Each has attended missions with their schools and summer camps at the center.

Linking students directly to astronauts aboard the space station provides unique, authentic experiences designed to enhance student learning, performance and interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

"Our local Challenger Learning Center is honored to have three student videos chosen for this ISS downlink. This means the quality of the questions our local students sent in was top notch," said Melllisa Duncan, center director. "Our center is definitely meeting our mission of inspiring students to be interested in and take advantage of STEM learning opportunities."

The Challenger Center network provides more than 250,000 students annually with experiential STEM education programs. Challenger Center President and CEO Lance Bush will give opening remarks via a pre-recorded video. The student question-and-answer session will be the first of its kind with astronauts who arrived to the station on a commercially owned and operated spacecraft.

Cassidy launched to the space station April 9, 2020, and currently serves as the commander of Expedition 63. On May 30, Behnken and Hurley became the first NASA astronauts to launch to the station aboard a commercial spacecraft and rocket, lifting off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket as part of NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission. Behnken and Hurley joined the Expedition 63 crew after their Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, arrived to the station May 31.

For nearly 20 years, astronauts have been continuously living and working on the space station, testing technologies, performing science and developing the skills needed to explore farther from Earth.

For more information about the Challenger Learning Center at Paducah, contact Mellisa Duncan at

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