With a large black UConn banner and UConn baseball cap floating
behind him, Mastracchio hovered between two space suits and spun
upside down several times during the pre-recorded address for the
400 graduates and a crowd of about 5,000 at the university.
"I could not be there with you on this big day, but being in space I
was trying to figure out how to make this speech different than all
the other commencement addresses that are given each year," he said.
"And then I realized - I'm in a weightless environment. So maybe, I
should give the speech in a different orientation."
Mastracchio, 54, who is on an eight-month stint on the space
station, then floated upside down, before spinning back to an
upright position, bringing laughs and cheers from graduates and
“I probably have the best job on and off the planet," he said.
Kazem Kazerounian, dean of the engineering school, who set up the
speech from space, said: "Many of us, faculty and students, were
inspired to become engineers because of space exploration and this
was a perfect way to bring more reality to our dreams."
[to top of second column]
Mastracchio, who will return to Earth next week aboard a Russian
spacecraft after completing his fourth trip into space, had a final
message as he grabbed and put on the UConn baseball cap.
"Go Huskies," he said, referring to the nickname for the school's
sports teams, as he spun upside down again.
(Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Peter Cooney)
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