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Jaime Forero and the Crew of STS-120 Land in Colombia

by Cristian Góez
(Translated by Michelle Mock)
Planetario de Bogotá-Colombia

The crew of shuttle flight STS-120 Discovery visited the Planetario de Bogotá-Colombia on Friday, March 7, 2008.  Four astronauts met with 50 teachers, 20 science experts and 200 young people who belong to the astronomy clubs at the Bogotá Planetarium.  Astronauts Stephanie D. Wilson, Paolo A. Nespoli, Douglas H. Wheelock, George D. Zamka and Columbian Jaime Forero, who has been associated with NASA for more than 20 years, came to the Planetario de Bogotá to share their experiences and life in Space.  There was a display of messages and drawings for the moon, created by the students who attended the event.

Bringing the astronauts to Colombia was organized by the Planetario de Bogotá, the Presidencia de la República, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Colciencias, Asociación Colombiana para el Avance de la Ciencia, Maloka, Universidad de los Andes, Fuerza Aérea Colombiana, Parque Explora de Medellín, Museo del Oro y la Secretaría de Cultura, Recreación y Deporte.  This event served to stimulate the interest of the young people, and the community in general, in astronomy and the space sciences.  You can read more about the visiting astronauts in their NASA bios:

Astronaut Stephanie D. Wilson

Astronaut Paolo Angelo Nespoli

Astronaut Douglas H. Wheelock

Astronaut George D. Zamka

We were also visited by engineer Jaime Forero, M.Sc., a Colombian who made his childhood dreams a reality: building objects that fly.  This was an interest which came from his father, who worked many years for Avianca.  In 1970, Jaime arrived in the United States to study and became a mechanical engineer in California.  He works for the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.  He has been working at NASA for the last 20 years in the Astronaut Office as an assessor.  Upon receipt of his degree, in 1978 he joined the space program with Rockwell, who built the space shuttles.  His work is related to preparation of the crew cabin in the space shuttle and all the equipment used by the astronauts on the shuttle and the International Space Station.  This office handles everything from the human perspective, that is to say, everything that they touch, how to open, how to close, the tools that are used in space to repair equipment.

This work, which he has been doing since 1996 with twelve others, includes assembly of the various components of the shuttle prior to launch, and to ensure a successful mission with no failures.  In NASA's Astronaut Office, Engineer Forero is in charge of verifying that everything aboard the space shuttle functions properly and that nothing could become a danger to the crew.  Jaime knows the astronauts who have gone to space.  He shares with them, and all his other co-workers, the things that tie him to Columbia: a flag and poster of the soccer team América de Cali.  His secret for success as an engineer is: "In Columbia, you do not have to be a genius.  If a person has interest and is dedicated, things will go well."

George Zamka, remembering some of his Spanish, told us: "It is a pleasure to be in Colombia with my companions, sharing our experiences.  We are normal human beings, who were young students and we had a dream that we followed.  We had aspirations and we realized that everything is possible."  Zamka stressed the importance of studying Math and Science, because these are the foundation to become and engineer or an astronaut.

- 10 March 2008

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Last Updated:
26 March 2008

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