About 300 kilometers above the ground, the astronaut Alexander Gerst hovered a microphone in the air.
He slowly turned in zero gravity while Gerst waited to hear a question from 14-year-old Dusty Philman. Space Center in Hampton
"What kind of technical training do you get to make sure you can fix mechanical problems on the (International Space Station)?" Philman, an aspiring freshman at Hampton High School, asked Gerst  Virginia students talk to ESA astronaut at N "class =" trb_em_ic_img "title =" Virginia students talk to ESA astronaut at N "Data-c-nd =" 2048×1368 "/>
NASA's Virginia Air & Space Center in Hampton, Virginia will be hosting a second downlink on Tuesday, July 1
(Nickolas Oatley / Daily Press) 19659006] It took about three seconds for Phi lman's words to reach the ISS, where Gerst is holding his second tour.
He picked up the microphone Answering the air and answering that it took four to five years of technical training to become an astronaut, but he learned most of everything Help him today as you grow up.
"As so often, it's not the things you do at school or in the Univer You need to learn the kind of skills that will take you all the way, but you need to take skills early in your life, "said Gerst, who works for the European Space Agency. "Mechanical skills were something I always tried to develop, my father and my grandfather, they were basically blacksmiths, so early on, when I was a kid, I learned to work with metal …
"So, doing things alone, going out, being curious, finding out things, learning languages, all these are the abilities that carry you a very, very far in your life."
About 500 students from Hampton, Newport News, Virginia Beach and Suffolk watched the conversation live, with about a dozen questions of their own.
Students from across the country were also in West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Kentucky.
"The first What came to my mind "Oh my god, we really have to take care of this planet, this little fragile atmosphere," he said. "If we do not care, we could destroy it, we could do it." make it impossible to li on this planet. We have no other planet (the one) we can jump over.
"We really only have this one small oasis in a black universe, so we need to appreciate it and take care of it – that was my first thought when I reached outer space."
Hammond is by phone can be reached at 757-247-4951 or on Twitter @byjanehammond .