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NASA astronaut returns to Robinson Secondary School with Sen. Kaine to inspire students

Robinson Secondary School graduate and astronaut Dr. Kjell Lindgren takes photos of Earth from the International Space Station in 2015 (courtesy NASA/Flickr)

More than two decades after he graduated, astronaut Dr. Kjell Lindgren has been drawn back into Robinson Secondary School’s orbit.

The Fairfax school will welcome its Class of 1991 alum back this afternoon (Friday) for a student assembly, where Lindgren will be joined on stage by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.

After helping secure $103 million in federal funding to replace the Wallops Island Bridge linking NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility to mainland Virginia, Kaine has been tasked with delivering introductory remarks before participating in a question-and-answer session, according to his office.

“I’m really looking forward to heading to Robinson Secondary School…to connect with students there and hear more about Dr. Lindgren’s experience in space and learn about NASA’s recent work,” Kaine said in a statement to FFXnow. “It’s my hope that this event will help inspire a new generation of astronauts and researchers from Virginia, and I appreciate Dr. Lindgren taking the time to share his story at his alma mater.”

Since graduating from Robinson, Lindgren has notched some out-of-this-world accomplishments, per his NASA bio.

Selected as one of 14 members of NASA’s 20th astronaut class in 2009, he now has 311 days in space and two spacewalks under his belt. That experience came as a crew member on the agency’s 44th and 45th expeditions to the International Space Station in 2015, and as commander of its SpaceX Crew-4 mission.

Lindgren and three other crew members in that mission — NASA’s fourth commercial flight overall and first in the “Freedom” capsule manufactured by Elon Musk’s private company — splashed back down to Earth on Oct. 14, 2022 after 170 days in orbit.

During his time in space, Lindgren helped conduct hundreds of scientific experiments that dealt with subjects like growing crops in space and the impact of life in microgravity on hearing, according to NASA. As part of Expedition 44, he was among the first people to eat lettuce grown in space.

A native of Taipei, Taiwan, Lindgren grew up in the Midwest and England before moving to Virginia for his last three years of high school. His parents still live in Burke.

For his undergraduate education, he attended the U.S. Air Force Academy, serving as an instructor and jumpmaster for the school’s “Wings of Blue” parachuting team. He later went to medical school and got certified in emergency medicine, supporting NASA as a flight surgeon before becoming an astronaut.

Photo courtesy NASA/Flickr