‘Annie’ and an Astronaut NASA astronaut Andrew Feustel will take the Annie Glenn Award into orbit with him as a tribute to audiologists, SLPs and communication. School Matters
Free
School Matters  |   March 01, 2018
‘Annie’ and an Astronaut
Author Notes
  • Bridget Murray Law is editor-in-chief of The ASHA Leader. bmurraylaw@asha.org
    Bridget Murray Law is editor-in-chief of The ASHA Leader. bmurraylaw@asha.org×
  • Follow Drew’s adventures on Twitter and Instagram: @astro_feustel. Check the education tab on nasa.gov for educational videostreams. And watch the launch streamed live on NASA TV (www.nasa.gov/tv) on March 21.
    Follow Drew’s adventures on Twitter and Instagram: @astro_feustel. Check the education tab on nasa.gov for educational videostreams. And watch the launch streamed live on NASA TV (www.nasa.gov/tv) on March 21.×
Article Information
Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / School Matters
School Matters   |   March 01, 2018
‘Annie’ and an Astronaut
The ASHA Leader, March 2018, Vol. 23, 36-38. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM2.23032018.36
The ASHA Leader, March 2018, Vol. 23, 36-38. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM2.23032018.36
This month, the ASHA Annie Glenn Award blasts off into space.
Well, a miniature version of it does, anyway—made of the same glinting blue and white glass that’s reminiscent of Planet Earth itself. Carrying the award with him onto the International Space Station is astronaut Andrew (Drew) Feustel, spouse of Indira Bhatnagar Feustel, a Houston-based speech-language pathologist specializing in adult neurogenic disorders.
Drew, who will be commander of Expedition 56, is transporting the award to recognize the importance of communication on Earth, in space and beyond. The geologist and hobby musician is also taking ASHA certification patches in audiology and speech-language pathology and a T-shirt that says “Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists Rock!” He’ll send photos of himself with all three items back to Earth.
His wife, Indira, coordinated the effort with ASHA, whose Schools Team has also developed a space-related curriculum to coincide with the mission (see “Expedition 56: Take the Journey with Us”). Drew is set to take off for the space station from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, in a Soyuz rocket on March 21. Accompanying him are fellow U.S. astronaut Richard Arnold and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev. Once on the station—where they will join three others—Drew will serve as engineer of Expedition 55 before taking over as commander of Expedition 56 for the final three months. This is Drew’s third space flight.
For his wife, Indira, Drew’s space journey seemed an apt opportunity to showcase ASHA’s Annie Award, named for Annie Glenn, wife of pioneering astronaut John Glenn and a champion of people with communication disorders. Also making the award meaningful to Indira and Drew is the fact that Indira served on the treatment team for former congressional representative and “Annie” award recipient Gabrielle (Gabby) Giffords during her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head. Just months after the shooting, in May 2011, Giffords attended the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, which was commanded by her husband, Mark Kelly. On Kelly’s crew was Drew.
The ASHA Leader talked with Drew and Indira to find out more about life aboard the International Space Station, how people back on Earth can get involved, and why communication is mission-critical up there.
Drew, what are some key matters the crew needs to communicate about on the Space Station?
Drew: Day to day we talk about ensuring the safety of the crew and the spacecraft and ensuring mission success. That means carrying out science experiments that are important back on Earth. We also need to keep the station operational, just like running a house. We need to ensure that the power, life support, thermal systems and experiments are working. Communication is mission-critical. And we’re talking with each other about anything and everything because we’re not only coworkers, we’re family and friends—we’re co-inhabitants of a very small volume of space.

We need to ensure that the power, life support, thermal systems and experiments are working. Communication is mission-critical.

Indira, what’s it like for you when Drew is away in space?
Indira: His last missions were shorter, 13 and 15 days. This long-duration mission will be new for our family. So communication will be necessary to keep us happy. We’ll have emails, phone calls and a video downlink once a week.
Drew: I can call Indi and our sons at any time. They can email me at any time. And once a week, there’s a scheduled video conference between us.
Drew, while on the International Space Station, you and fellow astronaut Richard Arnold, a former science teacher, will be working to support NASA’s Year of Education Initiative, a STEM-boosting effort. Tell us more about this.
Drew: Ricky Arnold and Joe Acaba, also a former educator, were both selected back in 2004. Joe Acaba is on the space station now. Having them up there back-to-back provides a great opportunity for NASA to highlight that we’re sending educators to space and to emphasize the need for STEM. While on the station, we’ll be doing outreach to students and educators through the education tab on NASA.gov. We’ll have video downlinks talking about our experiments in space—some of them that were even designed by students—in an effort to motivate children, capture their imagination and help them create goals that may have seemed beyond their reach.
I started out as a mechanic attending community college, and I think NASA is also trying to emphasize that students don’t have to follow traditional paths to reach their goals.

We’ll be doing outreach to students and educators through the education tab on NASA.gov.

What’s most challenging about being on a six-month expedition?
Drew: It’s being away and apart from your family and friends. And being off the Earth. When you’re on Earth, you have a desire to be in space. But when you’re in space, there’s a deep desire to be back on the Earth. When you’re above the planet, you realize that everybody and everything you love, every smell, every taste, every vision that you’ve ever seen and loved, is down there.
Also, though it’s certainly less challenging than being deployed military personnel, we do have the forces of nature trying to kill us. It’s a very hostile environment up there.
Have you ever had a close call with nature trying to kill you up there?
Drew: Not personally, but we have had instances of fire in space. We had one crew member face water flooding into his spacesuit, which could have drowned him. The primary threats are fire, loss of cabin pressure and a toxic atmosphere. We’re trained to develop muscle memory that allows us to react to these emergencies without thinking.
Indira, tell us more about your motivation for contacting ASHA about Expedition 55-56.
Indira: Sometimes the world and the universe collide in an interesting way. When Drew was first selected to be an astronaut in 2000, I told him about the ASHA Annie Glenn Award. I remember saying to him, “I hope we are going to meet John and Annie Glenn.” We first met them both briefly at the 40th Apollo reunion at the Smithsonian in 2009. Annie was thrilled to hear that I was an SLP. She gave me the warmest hug. Later, at the 2012 ASHA Convention, we were fortunate to be seated with John and Annie at a dinner after Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly received the Annie Glenn Award.
I was honored to have worked with a remarkable team of SLPs to help Gabby with her rehabilitation. So it brought the story full circle for us to sit at the same table with her and Mark and Annie and John. We’ll always remember that 2012 dinner. To be able to send these items to space for Annie, for Gabby, for all of us—it means more than words can truly express.
0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
March 2018
Volume 23, Issue 3