Galaxy IMAX to host student Q&A with Space Station astronauts

Cinemas News

Approximately 1,000 students from West Sound STEM Network school districts will speak with NASA astronauts living, working and doing research aboard the International Space Station on the morning of Dec. 12. The 20-minute, Earth-to-space call will air live on NASA TV’s Media Channel and the agency’s website. Galaxy Theatres Luxury+ Gig Harbor in Gig Harbor, WA, will host the live downlink in their recently opened IMAX auditorium.

Select students will be able to ask questions of NASA astronauts including Mark Vande Hei, who is currently aboard the International Space Station on Expedition 53. Discussion will include topics about living aboard the space station, NASA’s deep space exploration plans, and science in space. The downlink will be available for classroom use across the nation.

“Experiences like the NASA Downlink inspire young and old to think of what is possible for future career pathways,” said South Kitsap School District superintendent Karst Brandsma. “We have the challenge of preparing students for jobs that may not currently exist.”

West Sound STEM Network was selected through a competitive process to host a downlink with the station. Across the nine participating districts, students have been preparing for the event by studying the space station, astronaut biographies, and the current research and activities happening aboard it.

“West Sound STEM Network students, teachers, and administrators are very excited about the opportunity to directly engage with our national space agency,” said Dr. Aaron Leavell, superintendent of the Bremerton School District. “As we continue targeted strategies to improve student access to STEM and increased student performance, real-world opportunities like the NASA downlink are critical to 21st-century skills.”

This in-flight education downlink is an integral component of NASA’s “Year of Education on Station,” which provides extensive space station-related resources and opportunities to students and educators.

“We know that engaging our students in innovative STEM experiences will pay dividends in the future for college and career readiness. At West Sound STEM Network, we are committed to strengthening the pipeline at all levels,” said Dr. Kareen Borders, South Kitsap School District director of STEM programs and outreach. “The career-connected learning that occurs in preparation for the downlink with NASA is a phenomenal opportunity.”

Students will ask their questions while viewing the astronauts on IMAX’s digital cinema projectors and 71-foot screen. The Gig Harbor location’s ten remaining auditoriums will broadcast the downlink live for students not participating in the live discussion.

More than 1,200 attendees are expected on-site, including regional and state political, educational, military and business leaders. For more information, videos and lesson plans highlighting research on the International Space Station, visit