Puerto Rican astronaut reaches out to island’s kids
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The first astronaut of Puerto Rican heritage reached out to schoolchildren on the hurricanebashed island.
Flying aboard the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Joe Acaba fielded questions from students at the Puerto Rico Institute of Robotics in Manati. One student asked how Puerto Rico looked from space after Hurricane Maria struck in September. Acaba said the first thing he noticed was he lack of lights, making the island almost impossible to see at night.
A boy noted that after the hurricane, it was difficult for some to eat given the limited variety of available food. Does Acaba find the limited space menu tough to swallow?
The menu, while pretty good, repeats every week or two and does get monotonous, Acaba said. Of course, he said it doesn’t compare to such Puerto Rican specialties as pasteles, stuffed meat pastries wrapped in banana leaves popular around Christmas, and rice with pigeon peas and pork.
“I’m ready to get home and have a great meal,” he said.
Acaba, a former school teacher, is supposed to return to Earth at the end of February. He arrived at the space station a week before Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, already reeling from Hurricane Irma.
The astronaut’s parents were from Hatillo, Puerto Rico, and moved to the U.S. He was born in Southern California and grew up there but has lots of relatives on the island. Acaba switched between English and Spanish in answering students’ questions.
The students were brought to the institute from across Puerto Rico for the event.