Students, Parents Watch As Hometown Astronaut Lands On Earth

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No official countdown was necessary to get a Waterbury group fired up for local astronaut, Rick Mastracchio.

“What I’m feeling is excitement,” said Joseph Medina, a second-grader. “I’m really happy to be here.”

He and his friend, Rafel Ramos, spent Tuesday night at Waterbury’s Buffalo Wild Wings, watching and waiting for Mastracchio to journey from space to earth on live television via NASA TV.

Mastracchio is a Waterbury native who has been working as a flight engineer on the International Space Station.

“I know a lot about astronauts. They’re not there to have fun. They’re there to study. They could fix problems in the atmosphere,” said Ramos, a third-grader.

During the last 6 months in orbit, Mastracchio’s repaired faulty space computer and other problems. He also participated in an on-going science project with Ramos, Medina and other members of Waterbury’s Police Activity League.

“It’s been exciting, you know, we wake up every day and we’ll look on the website with my own kids and seeing where he’s been and what he’s taking pictures of. He’s taking a lot of pictures of Connecticut from space and it’s been great,” said Lt. Robert Cizauskus, organizer of Tuesday’s watch party and administrator for the local P.A.L.

Ramos and Medina had to go to bed before Mastraccio broke into the atmosphere but the older crowd stayed to cheer him on.

They are proud that Connecticut raised a Rocketeer role model.

“He always wanted to have a way to get kids involved in his journeys,” said Cizauskus. “it’s been fascinating.”

Mastracchio landed at a remote location Kazakstan around 10 p.m. EST. His return to earth will be replayed for students during school Wednesday.

Cizauskus said the astronaut might visit Connecticut in September.

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