Astronaut Receives an Honorary Degree From Purdue University While Still in Space

Saturday, 12 May 2018 - 4:20PM
Space
NASA
Saturday, 12 May 2018 - 4:20PM
Astronaut Receives an Honorary Degree From Purdue University While Still in Space
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NASA
Honorary degrees are highly esteemed and typically something worth showing up in person for, unless there are extenuating circumstances for not showing up. Like, say, being in space.

This was the case for NASA astronaut Drew Feustel, who just received an honorary doctoral degree from Purdue University (although as a geophysicist, he'd already gotten a normal doctorate long ago). Purdue's commencement ceremony was this past Friday in Indiana, but Feustel had that oh-so-common predicament of being off-world at the time, since he's currently one of the six astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

Instead, Feustel had to beam in to the ceremony in a video stream, with the ISS broadcasting his role in the ceremony while fellow astronaut Scott Tingle draped the Purdue hood over his shoulders (which had been launched into space prior). Tingle is also a Purdue graduate, so the university deemed it acceptable.




Interestingly, Purdue University is well known for the amount of astronauts who've gone there. The school can currently brag that 23 astronauts claim Purdue as an alma mater, including Neil Armstrong. Feustel attended the school for his undergraduate and master's degree before going to Queen's University in Canada for his doctorate, and he joined in part because he had plans to become an astronaut even back then. 



While there are currently only six astronauts in space aboard the ISS - three from the U.S. NASA, two from Russia's Roscosmos, and one from Japan's JAXA - that will hopefully be changing soon, as new space stations like the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway in the works before its planned setup in the Moon's orbit. 

And if the ISS manages to avoid getting shut down over the next several years, there will continue to be a steady stream of astronauts having to get awards while stuck in space.




We could call it unfortunate timing that Feustel was in space during the graduation, but Purdue likely knew full well where the astronaut would be. That said, just like doing anything from space, getting a degree while in space is still cool.
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