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Endeavour Crew Chats with Tucson School Kids from Space

NASA(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Elementary school classmates of the youngest victim of the deadly January Tucson, Ariz., shootings that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. severely wounded, chatted Sunday with space shuttle Endeavour astronauts Mark Kelly and Mike Fincke while they were in orbit.

The Sunday night talk at Mesa Verde Elementary School was a priority for Kelly, the father of two teenage girls, and the husband of Rep. Giffords. Kelly has been haunted by Christina's death, and he told ABC News' Diane Sawyer earlier this year it agonized him when he thought about it.

One thing Kelly could give was his time, and that's why students crowded into school on a Sunday night to talk to the astronauts. He told them that when he was Christina's age, "I was watching Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, and I told myself that if I worked really hard, maybe one day I would have the opportunity to fly in space, and I did work hard and it did work out. It was those early Apollo astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan that inspired me."

Endeavour Cmdr. Mark Kelly Answers Questions From Orbit

Q: How long does it take to get to space?

Kelly: We go from zero to 17,500 mph in 8 minutes and 20 seconds. When those main engines start, it's like being on a runaway train that is going 1000 mph.

Q: How fast do you go?

Kelly: Right now, we are going 17,500 mph. We see a sunrise and sunset every 45 minutes. If you go outside in spacewalk, it is in the vacuum of space. Even though you are going fast it is not like sticking your arm out the window of a car. You don't feel the air rushing by.

At the end of the session, Kelly showed the students a scrapbook he brought into space for them that he would give to Mesa Verde Elementary School after Endeavour lands in June.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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