When the Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off, en route to the International Space Station, 22 eighth graders from Alexandrias Browne Academy were at the Kennedy Space Center to wish the crew bon voyage.
The students were guests of NASA for the launch because of the important cargo that Discovery is carrying. Node II, as NASA used to call the module, will connect the Space Station to laboratories being built by the Europeans and the Japanese. These labs cannot be put in place until Node II is attached. Last year, NASA conducted a contest to give Node II a name and eighth graders from Browne won, naming the module Harmony.
It will bring people from all over the world together, said Diana Winter, a spokesperson for this years eighth-grade class.
Virginia Congressman Jim Moran (D-8th) came to see the students off last week. You are very fortunate to be going to watch a launch of the Space Shuttle and I am sure that you are going to find it very exciting, Moran said.
He declined the students invitation to accompany then, saying, I will be here voting on funding for NASA while you are watching the launch.
The students flew to Florida on Sunday, toured the Kennedy Space Center on Monday and watched the launch on Tuesday. They returned to Alexandria on Wednesday. A picture of Harmony and the students essay are on NASAs web site.