Washington, D.C., March 20, 2009 – "Go ahead, Voice of America. We hear you loud and clear," said Astronaut Mike Fincke today as he and fellow astronauts answered Voice of America (VOA) questions from the International Space Station.
A video webcast from the astronauts who have been on the space station since Tuesday to deploy new solar array wings is available at VOANews.com.
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"People everywhere really want to know what it is like to see the earth from space," said VOA's Ndimyake Mwakalyelye, host of the VOA webcast. "What can you see from the space station?"
"Looking at earth is our favorite pastime activity," replied Fincke. He mentioned the astronauts could see airports, bridges and the Pyramids in Egypt but were unable to see the Great Wall of China because it blends into the scenery.
Sandra Magnus, the only female astronaut on the mission, said the view is "the most amazing thing I've seen … (the earth) is very small and very fragile."
Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata said the crew is busy most of the time, noting he had "not yet had time to read a book." Also appearing was Russian cosmonaut Yury Valentinovich Lonchakov.
VOA Executive Editor Steve Redisch said the interactive webcast had attracted international interest. "We received questions from all across the globe – Brazil, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Russia, and Iran, to name a few."
The U.S. space shuttle Discovery launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on March 15 and arrived at the space station on March 17. The astronauts were set to spend a total of eight days at the space station.
VOA radio and television programs are webcast. They are available either live or on-demand. VOANews.com now offers a streamlined menu of audio and video files in mp3 and mp4 formats.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.
For more information, call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.